How to Answer Questions at Your Workers Compensation Deposition in Virginia
If you file a claim for workers compensation in Virginia, then chances are good that the insurance company will take your deposition before the hearing. In a deposition you will answer questions from the attorney for your employer and insurance company under oath. Your answers at deposition help determine the value of your workers compensation settlement and can be used against you at trial, so you should prepare for the deposition and take it seriously.
This article is meant to make you feel more comfortable as you prepare for your Virginia workers compensation deposition. Keep reading to find out more. And contact workers comp attorney Corey Pollard for a free consultation if you have any questions or concerns about your legal rights.
Can My Employer’s Insurance Company Take My Deposition?
Rule 1.8(G) of the Rules of the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission governs depositions. Any party may depose any person, including you – the injured worker. The insurance company does not need the Commission’s permission to take your deposition and can compel your attendance by issuing a subpoena. As a practical matter the insurance company’s attorney and your attorney will agree on a date that works for you. A subpoena is rarely necessary.
What Happens at My Workers Comp Deposition?
Your deposition will likely take place in a conference room at your lawyer’s office. Sometimes an injured employee’s deposition is conducted at the insurance company’s office or a neutral site if you do not live close to your attorney’s office.
The following people will be at your deposition: you; your attorney; the insurance company’s attorney; and, a court reporter. The court reporter will have equipment with him or her, such as a tape recorder or laptop. The court reporter will make a written transcript of the deposition that the parties will use as evidence in your case.
Before defense counsel asks you questions the court reporter will ask you to raise your right hand and promise to tell the truth under oath. So even though your deposition is taking place in a formal setting you should still treat it as though you’re in a courtroom. You must answer every question truthfully.
Most defense attorneys will start the deposition by giving you a brief overview of what to expect and by asking you to give verbal responses. Then he or she will ask you a series of questions. Though the questions change depending on the specifics of your claim, usually a workers compensation deposition addresses these topics:
- Background Information: This includes your living situation, number of children, and the area you live in for job search purposes.
- Educational Background: The highest grade you completed and your vocational training play an important role in determining whether you’ve conducted a good faith job search if applicable.
- Employment Background: This is used to get an idea of the type of work you’re familiar with if the insurance company offers vocational rehabilitation.
- Past Injuries: A common defense to workers comp claims is that the injured employee’s ongoing disability is related to a preexisting condition. So expect many questions about prior accidents, injuries, and chronic conditions.
- How the Accident Happened: These questions are asked to determine if you suffered an injury by accident that is covered under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.
- Medical Treatment: Though the actual medical records and physician statements are more important, the insurance company will make sure that it is aware of everywhere you’ve treated so that it can issue a subpoena duces tecum to each health care provider.
- Work Restrictions: The insurance company will ask for your understanding of what type of work you can do following your work accident.
- Job Search: If you’ve been released to light duty work then you have an obligation to look for work within your restrictions. The insurance company will try to find out if your job search has satisfied the Commission’s Guidelines on Looking for Light Duty Work.
- Criminal Convictions: The insurance company is entitled to ask you if you’ve been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving lying, cheating, or stealing. You should answer yes or no – but nothing more. If you’ve been convicted of such a crime the insurance company will use it to attack your credibility.
5 Rules to Follow at Your Workers Comp Deposition
Stay calm. Most defense attorneys are polite and will treat you respectfully. Others will be rude and try to get under your skin. Remember that the insurance company’s attorney has a job to do – and that is to limit the value of your case. Don’t let that bother you. Stay calm and measured, and answer the questions asked. These are the types of witnesses that insurance company’s hate because they know that you’ll come across as credible as trial.
Listen to the whole question. Don’t answer until you’ve heard the entire question. Some people will try to guess the question and answer quickly. This won’t help your case. Listen to the question, give your attorney a few seconds to object if the question is improper, then answer.
Don’t volunteer information. Your deposition is not the time to talk about things you find important to your case. Your only obligation – and the only thing you should do – is answer the question being asked. A simple “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know” will usually suffice.
Don’t share what you and your attorney have spoken about. The other side is not entitled to know what you and your attorney have talked about during confidential conversations. Most defense attorneys will not ask you about your conversations with your attorney, but if they do you do not have to answer. Your attorney should step in and object.
Don’t guess. A deposition isn’t a memory test. If you don’t know the answer to a question it is ok to say so. A guess can come back to hurt your credibility and your case.
Will My Attorney Ask Questions at My Deposition?
Usually your attorney will not ask you questions at the deposition because he or she can talk to you any time. Your attorney will ask you questions at trial.
What Happens after the Deposition?
At the end of the workers comp deposition the court reporter will ask you if you’d like to read or waive. If you waive then the court reporter will send a copy of the deposition transcript to the parties in the next few weeks. If you read then the court reporter will send you a draft deposition transcript and allow you to complete a sheet with suggested corrections and changes. We recommend reading the deposition transcript and not waiving.
Do I Need an Attorney at My Workers Comp Deposition?
You should hire an attorney to represent you if the other side asks to take your deposition. Your attorney will attend the deposition and make sure that the other side asks appropriate questions. Since most cases settle based on deposition testimony and answers to discovery, it is important that you have someone there in your corner.
Call, text, or e-mail us today for help with your work injury case.
More Articles on Discovery in Virginia Workers Compensation
- Claimant’s Interrogatories to the Employer and Insurer
- Answering Interrogatories in Workers Compensation Claims
- Claimant’s Request for Production of Documents and Things to Employer and Insurer
- How Can I Request a Subpoena in My Workers Comp Case?
- Independent Medical Examination (IME) in Workers Compensation
- Turning Over Medical Records in Your Workers Comp Case