As long as you are honest and prepared, the proceedings should go relatively smoothly.
If you are injured at work and decide to pursue workers’ compensation, there are a few critical steps you need to go through before obtaining your benefits. One of those steps might be a deposition. A deposition is a recorded interview that is taken under oath. During it, a lawyer will ask you questions about your injury. This allows them to have a record of your recounting of the events surrounding your accident and your current health. While this may sound intimidating, most people find their depositions to be quite comfortable. Still, you should prepare yourself to handle your deposition correctly.
If you are making a workers’ compensation claim, it is generally a good idea to speak with a St. Louis work injury lawyer to ensure everything goes smoothly. When you have a deposition, that attorney will help you prepare. You will review together your evidence, injuries, the story surrounding the accident, and how much work you have missed.
What Takes Place During
Your deposition will likely take place in a meeting room at a law office. The people in attendance will typically be you, your lawyer, the opposing lawyer, and a court recorder. After exchanging pleasantries, you will take an oath, to tell the truth. Though you are outside the courtroom, this oath is just as powerful as the one you take while testifying in court. That means that if you lie, you could be subject to perjury. Once you make your oath, the questions will start. They will ask you for background information, prior injuries, how your work accident happened, your medical treatment plan, and any physical limitations you are experiencing.
How the Process Unfolds
The hearing process may look rather similar to a trial. Here, you will present your case to an administrative judge, and essentially explain why your worker’s compensation claim should not have been denied by the insurance company. The company will then make a case to justify their actions.
Most of these hearings can be resolved on the same day, but more complicated cases can take longer than that if there is a lot of evidence to go through. Here are the main things you need to about these hearings:
1. Who Will Be There?
Though these aren’t public as is the case with many trials, you can expect multiple people to be present:
- The judge
- Court reporter
- Your employer or a representative
- Someone from the insurance company
2. What Evidence Do You Need to Present?
First, you have the documents relevant to your claim:
- Medical records
- Unpaid medical bills
- Lost wages
- Employee records
- Depositions taking during the claims’ process
You may also have witness testimony or other evidence (such as surveillance videos, for instance) which you can present in front of the judge.
3. Will You Testify?
In most cases yes. The judge will likely want to hear your story, so you will be asked to testify and provide information on:
- Your accident
- Your injuries or illness
- How it affected your life
- Your job description, etc.
Additionally, the other side has the right to cross-examine you, meaning they will ask you questions. You will be under oath the entire time.
Tips For Answering Questions
There are a few guidelines to follow when answering questions in a deposition. They are:
Wait For a Question to be Finished Before Answering It – The court recorder needs to type out exactly what was said in your deposition. Additionally, you should fully understand a question before answering it. Waiting for questions to be finished before answering will help in both domains.
Answer Every Question Out Loud – That means no nodding or “uh-huh” answers. Because this interview is recorded through writing, you need to be clear in your responses.
Don’t Offer Extra Information – If you’re asked a yes or no question, it’s best to answer yes or no. Do not give additional information when you don’t have to.
Don’t Guess – If you do not know the answer to a question, tell the lawyer the truth. Don’t try to guess. If you do, it may end up hurting your case.
Mistakes to Avoid During Workers’ Comp Deposition
The deposition process allows both sides to gather information and build their case. But it also presents an opportunity for mistakes to be made. If you’re pursuing a workers’ comp case, there are some common deposition mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.
Providing Information or Facts That You’re Unsure About
One of the biggest mistakes that people make in depositions is providing information or facts that they’re not sure about. It’s important to remember that you’re under oath when you’re giving your deposition. This means that everything you say can be used against you in court.
That said, if you don’t know the answer to a question or are unsure about something, it’s better to say so. Don’t try to guess or make up an answer. If you do, you could end up contradicting yourself later on.
Leaving Out Important Information
When answering questions during a deposition, it’s important to be honest and complete in your answers. Don’t try to hide anything or leave out important details. For example, if you were injured in a work accident, don’t try to downplay the extent of your injuries.
The attorney questioning you will likely have access to your medical records, so they’ll know if you’re not being truthful about your injuries. If you try to hide something, it will reflect poorly on you and could damage your case.
Exaggerating or Making False Statements
It’s natural to want to make your case as strong as possible. But it’s important to resist the temptation to exaggerate your injuries or the severity of the accident. Doing so will make you look dishonest and could damage your credibility.
The same is true for making false statements. Don’t try to mislead the attorney or the court by lying about what happened.
Formulating Answers in a Manipulative Way
Some people phrase their answers in manipulative way during a deposition to make their case seem stronger. For example, they might answer a question in a way that implies something that isn’t true. Or they might try to avoid answering a question directly.
Manipulative answers like these can backfire. The attorney questioning you will likely see through your attempts to manipulate the answers. And if the judge or jury sees it, they may not be as sympathetic to your case.
The best way to approach a deposition is to be honest, direct, and straightforward in your answers. If you do that, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed in your workers’ comp case.
Acting in an Unprofessional Manner While Under Oath
Another common mistake is acting in an unprofessional manner while under oath. This includes things like arguing with the attorney who is questioning you, being disrespectful, or refusing to answer a question.
It’s important to remember that everything you say and do during your deposition can be used against you in court. So even if you’re feeling frustrated or angry, try to remain calm and professional.
St. Louis Workers Compensation Attorney
Though a deposition may sound stressful, you should not fear having to do one. As long as you are honest and prepared, the proceedings should go relatively smoothly. The best way to ensure a positive experience is by seeking the help and experience of a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer. With a trusted attorney at your side, you can complete your deposition with confidence.
Speak With a Workers Comp Attorney
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