Were you recently injured at work? Are you in the process of filing for workers' compensation benefits? If so, you will likely at some point be called in for a deposition. A deposition is a documented and recorded statement in which an attorney asks you about your injury, your treatment, and your recovery. This usually takes place in a conference room at the office of the insurance company's lawyer. The deposition is important because the insurance company will use the information from the deposition to determine whether they will pay benefits or fight your claim. Here are four tips to help you manage your deposition:
Be honest. Since the deposition usually doesn't take place in a courtroom, it's easy to forget that it is a legal proceeding. You will be under oath during the deposition, so be completely honest in all of your answers. Obviously, you don't want to lie, but you also don't want to say anything that could be misconstrued as a lie. Don't exaggerate or stretch the truth. Don't speculate or guess. It's always acceptable to say, "I don't know," or to ask the questioning attorney to repeat the question. If you can answer with a simple yes or no, do so and say no more.
If the insurance company feels that you were less-than-honest in your answers, they could use that as justification for denying your claim. And they could bring up your perceived dishonesty in future court appearances and appeals.
Be professional and composed. In many ways, your deposition is a practice run for a trial. The insurance company's lawyer will likely be sizing you up to see how you perform as a witness. If you get easily rattled and flustered, the lawyer may feel like he or she can have success at trial. If you are calm, cool, and collected, he or she may decide that a trial is a risky proposition. That could encourage the insurance company to approve your benefits.
Let the lawyer finish the question. You may be tempted to answer questions before the lawyer finishes asking them. However, resist this urge. There are a few reasons why you should let the lawyer finish. One is so the court reporter can clearly hear everything and get it documented. You need a transcript for future proceedings and you want it to be accurate. Also, you want to make sure you understand the question.
Most importantly, though, if you have a lawyer with you, it's important that your lawyer have an opportunity to object. After each question, wait a second before answering. That will give your attorney time to step in if he or she feels the question is inappropriate.
For more information, contact a workers' comp lawyer in your area, such as from a firm like Freedman, Wagner, Tabakman & Weiss. They can review your case and help you get ready for appeal.