Florida requires most employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. The insurance covers Florida workers who are hurt at work or develop a workplace illness. If you sustained a workplace injury, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
As part of your workers’ compensation claim, you may be required to attend a workers’ compensation deposition. The outcome of the deposition could have a significant impact on your case. So, it is wise to seek legal advice about your cause. You have the right to have a Clearwater workers’ compensation lawyer with you during the deposition.
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What is a Workers’ Compensation Deposition?
A deposition is a testimony given under oath outside of court. A court reporter records the entire deposition and transcribes the recording word-for-word. An insurance company uses a deposition to gather general information about your workplace injury to investigate your claim.
Topics generally covered in workers’ compensation deposition include, but are not limited to:
- General information about you, such as your age, address, date of birth, work history, and education.
- Illnesses and prior injuries, including work-related injuries and injuries that were caused by accidents or other incidents
- The details about how your accident occurred or how you developed a workplace illness
- Your medical treatment, including doctor’s visits, physical therapy, medications, restrictions, surgery, and other procedures
- Any current limitations caused by your work injury, including not being able to sit or stand for long periods, restrictions on lifting objects, and inability to operate machinery
Your answers to questions during a deposition hold the same weight as if you were testifying in court. Therefore, it is crucial that you understand the common deposition mistakes made in workers’ compensation cases so that you can avoid these mistakes.
Common mistakes that people often make during a workers’ compensation deposition include:
Responding When You Are Unsure of the Answer
Do not guess. If the opposing attorney asks you a question that is beyond your knowledge, it is okay to state that you do not have that information. It is better to say “I don’t know” than to provide false information or make up an answer.
Giving False Information
Do not lie during a deposition. If you are caught in a lie, it can hurt your credibility regarding other aspects of your case, including whether you suffered a work injury or how severely you were injured.
Likewise, do not withhold information that is specifically asked for during the deposition. Withholding information can also hurt your credibility.
Answering Before the Attorney Completes the Question
Listen closely to the question being asked and wait until the attorney stops talking before giving your answer. Assuming what the attorney is asking could result in giving unnecessary information that could hurt your case.
Becoming Angry or Acting Unprofessionally
It can be tempting to lash out at the insurance company or the opposing lawyer during a deposition. It may seem unfair that the insurance company is putting you through this process when you are an injured worker. However, becoming angry or acting unprofessionally at a deposition does not help your case.
Calmly answer the question posed by the lawyer. If you feel like you might lose your temper, ask if you can take a break to use the restroom. Talk with your lawyer outside of the room about how you are feeling.
Lying About Previous Injuries or Accidents
An insurance company may try to use a previous injury to argue that your current condition was not caused by a work accident. Therefore, the attorney may ask you about previous injuries and accidents. Do not lie or withhold information about health conditions or prior injuries or accidents.
If you did not tell your workers’ comp attorney about your previous injuries or accidents, tell him before the deposition. Your attorney needs to know this information to prepare a defense to a potential denial of benefits for your work-related injuries.
Exaggerating Your Symptoms or Disability
The insurance company will receive copies of all records for your medical care. It will have medical experts review the medical records. You never want your medical records to refute your testimony during a deposition.
Your doctor notes your symptoms in your medical records. They also include notes about activities that you can and cannot perform.
For example, if you state that you cannot do anything or you just sit on the couch all day because you are in severe pain, you give the impression that you are completely incapacitated and confined to your home.
Therefore, if an insurance investigator takes pictures of you while you are walking your dog, taking out the garbage, or grocery shopping, your entire testimony could be subject to suspicion.
Failing to Follow a Treatment Plan
The opposing attorney may ask you specific questions about your medical treatment plan. You should understand your treatment plan and be prepared to answer questions about your medical care.
If you did not follow the doctor’s treatment plan, the insurance company might allege that you caused your work injuries to worsen. Failing to mitigate damages by causing your injuries to worsen can hurt workers’ compensation claims.
Trying to Be Clever
It is important that you understand the question asked and provide a truthful answer. You can take time to think about your response or ask the attorney to explain the question. However, trying to provide a clever answer that you think will help your case may ultimately hurt your case if the information is untrue.
Attending a Workers’ Compensation Deposition Without an Attorney
If you receive notice of a deposition in your case, contact a workers’ compensation attorney immediately. It is never wise to attend a deposition without an attorney. You need someone in the room that protects your legal rights and best interests.
Furthermore, your attorney prepares you for the deposition. An attorney discusses the things you should and should not do during the deposition. He reviews common deposition questions with you before the deposition, so you know what to expect.
Your lawyer cannot tell you how to answer a question during the deposition or answer for you. However, your attorney can discuss information with you before the deposition so that you have facts and details that help you answer questions honestly without hurting your claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you sustained an injury at work, contact our Clearwater workers’ compensation lawyers for a free consultation. Let us help you receive the workers’ comp benefits you deserve.