As a workers compensation attorney, I have taken and sat through many depositions throughout my career. Overall, the format of a deposition and the questions asked are mostly the same. The main purpose of the deposition is to aid in the evaluation of a claim. The attorney’s main goal at the deposition is to determine if any benefits are owed to the applicant and explore issues that may minimize the insurance carrier’s exposure on the claim.
At a workers compensation deposition, the workers compensation attorney defending the employer and insurance carrier will conduct the deposition. Sometimes, there are multiple defense attorneys as multiple carriers covered the employer for the dates of injuries alleged. Thus, these depositions appear more intimidating to the applicant than others as multiple parties are present. It is important to note that the multiple defense attorneys’ present are there to mainly defend their position in case a question is asked that shifts liability to their client. The workers compensation attorney who set the deposition will be asking most of the questions. However, the other defense attorneys will most likely have an opportunity to ask the applicant questions at the end of the deposition.
In addition to the defense attorneys, the applicant’s workers compensation attorney, a court reporter, and an interpreter if needed.
The role of the court reporter is to take down all the questions and answers. The court reporter then creates a booklet of this information known as the deposition transcript. The deposition transcript is a very important part of the discovery process. The transcript can be used at later proceedings to call the applicant’s credibility into question. Thus, it is very important for an applicant to be honest during a deposition. The applicant’s testimony must correspond with the history given to any doctor, or else, this can present many issues. If the credibility of the applicant is brought into question, the applicant can be impeached as a witness, which may lead the Judge to rule against the applicant, barring the claim. Once a claim is barred, no benefits will be owed to the applicant.
Pre-pandemic, depositions were taken in person at the defense attorney’s office, a court reporters office or an applicant’s attorney’s office. However, during the pandemic, conducting depositions via Zoom became the standard. Still, some workers compensation attorneys insist that the deposition be taken in person now that things are slowly going back to the “new” normal. We shall see what happens…
Seriousness of Deposition
In my days as both a defense attorney and as an applicant’s attorney, I have encountered many applicants’ who were overflown with anxiety just prior to a deposition. I have also had a few clients that did not take the proceeding very seriously. Those individuals would fail to show up at multiple depositions without notifying their counsel. Some others would fail to answer the questions posed at a deposition.
Even though the proceeding seems informal, it is a serious one. Testimony given at a deposition is given under penalty of perjury, meaning that if the applicant lies under oath, they will be subject to fine, imprisonment or both in the state of California. Thus, it is imperative that a client responds to the questions asked as accurately and honestly as possible. The proceeding should not be taken lightly at all as there are consequences to missing depositions absent good cause.
Failing to appear at depositions without good cause can lead to dismissal of a case. Thus, it is very important that an applicant takes their case seriously and notifies their counsel if they cannot attend within a reasonable amount of time prior to the deposition.
The questions asked during a deposition depend on the type of claim filed. However, the general questions that every applicant is asked is background information, prior employment history, prior injury history, identification information, and medical history, and specific questions tailored to your case.
An individual who is alleging psych in a workers compensation claim can be asked any question. There are no limitations as everything is relevant to a psych claim. This includes things like whether an individual has ever filed for bankruptcy, whether you were ever a victim of domestic violence and etc. Before alleging psych, make sure there are no skeletons in the closet…
Contact Kesh Law, your workers compensation attorney, if you should have any additional questions regarding attending a deposition. Kesh Law will guide you throughout the entire process and ensure that you are comfortable walking into one.