Depositions are an integral part of every Workers’ Compensation claim that is being litigated. Although many people are familiar with the general concept of depositions, most have never been deposed and do not know what to actually expect. Because it is such an important part of the process, it is helpful to have an understanding of what to expect beforehand.
A deposition is the out-of-court oral testimony of a witness under oath. It is essentially a question-and-answer session regarding facts of your case and any relevant history you have. For the purposes of this blog, we are talking about the injured worker giving testimony. Let’s say, for example, the insurance carrier has denied your claim and you are being forced to litigate a Claim Petition to get the benefits you deserve. At some point early on in the litigation process, you will need to give deposition testimony. This is a standard and part of the process.
Depositions are necessary because they are used as evidence in your case. As the injured worker in the matter, no one knows better about what happened than you. That is why it is necessary to give testimony regarding how you were injured.
During the deposition, you, your attorney, an attorney for your employer, and a court reporter will be present. This is typically done in a conference room with all parties present. During the COVID pandemic, this has typically been done over conference calls or via video through applications such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. The court reporter is present to swear you in as a witness under oath and will transcribe the testimony. This way, there is a complete record of the deposition, and used as evidence in your case. The evidence, which is the transcript, will be submitted to the judge in your case to review.
A deposition is your chance to explain who you worked for, what your work involved, how you were injured, the medical treatment you have received, and why you cannot work. In other words, it is your opportunity to explain why you filed for Workers’ Compensation in the first place. It is your opportunity to tell your side of the story!
It is understandable that often times people are nervous for depositions because it seems like they are getting interrogated. However, there is nothing to worry about. All you have to do is tell the truth and answer the questions to the best of your ability. I like to tell my clients that a deposition is not meant to quiz your memory or trick you. Rather, it is simply for gathering information from the person who knows the most about what happened – you, the injured worker. Most important, we will prepare you for this. You will never go into a deposition blind. We will take at least 30 minutes beforehand and tell you exactly what to expect and ease your fears.
Your attorney as well as your employer’s attorney will have the opportunity to ask you questions regarding the facts of your case. If this is your first time testifying, the questions are often fairly standard and straight forward. Remember, the purpose of the deposition is to gather the information about your claim. Both sides are entitled to the facts. In some ways, this is the most important event in your case, but it is not cause for anxiety – the lawyers at Stern & Cohen prepare our clients exceptionally well for depositions
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