A deposition is an on the record formal oral interview. In Minnesota workers’ compensation claims, attorneys for employers and insurers typically conduct a formal interview of an injured employee. Depositions are used in the discovery phase of litigations. The parties may learn important information about where and when the injured worker sought medical care, witnesses to the accident, and his or her current medical condition. The deposition may even be introduced at evidence at a hearing or work comp trial.
Who is Present During a Deposition?
Court Reporter: this person transcribes the interview while the parties are speaking and later produces a written transcript of the deposition.
Deponent: the person who is being deposed or questioned. This may be the injured worker, an expert witness such as a doctor, or a witness.
Attorneys: the attorney who is taking the deposition will be present as well as the attorney for the deponent.
Sometimes, an employee represented will be present. He or she is allowed to observe but not talk at all during the proceedings. They are not allowed to nod or shake their head or to intimidate the witness. If he or she behaves inappropriately the employee representative will be asked to leave. Spouses or partners of the deponent may be allowed to observed but he or she is also not allowed to participate. A spouse may not indicate or motion to the deponent.
What Happens During the Deposition?
The court reporter will administer an oath to the deponent. The deponent will swear to tell the truth just as if he or she was testifying in court in front of a judge. The attorney who asked for the deposition will begin questioning or interviewing the deponent. Sometimes the attorney for the deponent may ask questions after the other attorney has finished his or her questioning. Typically, in a workers’ compensation case, rarely will an attorney object to the line of questioning. Attorneys are generally allowed free rein to ask the deponent a variety of questions and objections are reserved for a formal hearing.
Where Will the Deposition Take Place?
Generally, the deposition will take place in the office of one of the law firms involved with the case. In a work comp case, if an attorney is taking a deposition of an injured worker, the deposition usually takes place in the office of the injured worker’s attorney. If you have been sent notice of a deposition, you should check where and when the deposition will be held. You should also plan on arriving early to speak with your attorney and to ensure plenty of time so you are not late.
How Long Will the Deposition Take?
Work comp depositions last approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours, but can be longer or shorter depending on the complexity of the issues or if the deponent has been deposed before for the same date of injury. The duration of the deposition differs from attorney to attorney for the insurer and employer and depends on the style of questioning. Usually the attorneys take at least one break. If you need more, just ask.
What Kinds of Questions Will I be Asked?
- Are you looking for work? Attorneys for the employers and insurers want to know if you are conducting a diligent job search. They may ask for job logs and examples of positions for which you have applied. If injured workers do not actively seek employment, he or she may not be entitled to certain types of wage loss benefits.
- When do you intend to retire? Attorneys for the employers and insurer may try to pressure you to state you planned on retiring at a young age, which could cut off your entitlement to work comp benefits until age 65.
- Do you have any prior injuries?
- Have you been convicted of a felony or a crime of dishonesty in the last 10 years?
- When did you first seek treatment?
- When did you first report your injury?
- Tell the truth. Lying can severely hurt your case. All cases have bad facts. You hired an attorney to help deal with the bad facts.
- If you don’t understand the question, ask the attorney to re-phrase.
- If you don’t know an answer, tell them you don’t know.
- Don’t guess. If an answer is an estimate or a guess say that before answering the question.
- Don’t ramble. Answer the question but don’t pontificate. If the attorney wants more information he or she will ask follow-up questions.
- Dress appropriately. While you do not need to wear a suit or formal clothing, sloppy clothes should not be worn. A button-down or collar shirt with hole free jeans are appropriate.
The court reporter can only record oral responses. Don’t nod or shake your head. Answer yes or no.
Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. The process can be complex and you want to be sure you receive the full benefits you are entitled. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation. At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we keep our clients informed of the process as well as what to expect each step of the way. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.