Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | October 20, 2022
State law requires most Georgia employers to offer workers’ compensation insurance to their employees. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation administers the workers’ compensation program, and it will cover medical expenses and part of your lost earnings if you suffer a work-related injury. However, you might have to attend a deposition to process your claim.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a Q&A session with a lawyer who represents the opposing party or insurance company. You will be under oath the entire time, but the deposition will not take place in a courtroom. Instead, it will be in a lawyer’s office or the court reporter’s office. The court reporter and the representatives of various parties will attend, and the court reporter will record the session.
Deposition Mistakes That Could Negatively Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Giving oral testimony at a deposition can be daunting. In a worst-case scenario, even one ill-advised decision could sink your claim.
At a deposition, you will be under oath, meaning you must make truthful statements. Take this obligation seriously. The other side probably knows more than you think they do, and if you tell a lie, they will pounce on it. If you begin to wonder which answer will most benefit your claim, dismiss this thought immediately. It might be tempting to lie when the stakes are high, but the risks are too great.
It is particularly tempting to slip into exaggeration during a deposition. Do not yield to this temptation. An exaggeration is a form of lying, even when it concerns a subjective issue such as how much your injuries hurt.
The other side has ways of uncovering the truth, no matter how carefully you may try to hide it. Besides pain, the extent of your disability is another matter where you might be tempted to exaggerate.
Understating is the opposite of exaggerating. For example, the opposing party will ask about your medical history. Suppose, for example, your workers’ compensation claim concerns a back injury, and you had a back injury many years ago.
You might consider understating the seriousness of your back injury out of fear that the other side will claim that your current back problems relate to your original back injury and were not caused by your recent work-related injury. Nevertheless, don’t understate the severity of your injury.
Stating Facts Beyond Your Knowledge
Since you are not an expert witness, your job is to testify on matters within your personal knowledge. If the lawyer asks you when something happened, don’t guess what time it was. “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer as long as it’s true.
Indeed, “I don’t know” is a much better answer than a guess disguised as knowledge. If you guess, the opposing party might find a way to use it against you. At the very least, they can attack your credibility.
Losing Your Temper
Opposing attorneys at depositions are usually polite and professional. Nevertheless, you might face a situation where the opposing attorney is deliberately baiting you to make you angry or upset, hoping you will get rattled and make a mistake. Don’t fall for it. Keep your cool and keep your wits about you at all times.
Failing To Follow “Doctor’s Orders”
This failure does not take place at a deposition, but it can come out in a deposition. Even though workers’ compensation is not fault-based, you still have an obligation to take common-sense measures after your injury that will prevent you from needlessly piling up your damages. In law, this is known as “mitigation of damages.”
If you fail to mitigate your damages by, for example, walking too early on an injured leg or failing to take prescription medication, you failed to mitigate your damages. You cannot claim compensation for any losses that arose only because you failed to mitigate your damages.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help Preparing for a Deposition
Your workers’ compensation claim might go smoothly without needing a deposition. However, if your claim becomes complex enough to require a deposition, you should hire a lawyer well before the deposition date to help you prepare. You should also bring your lawyer to the deposition with you.
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