Depositions are sworn statements under oath taken in person by your employer’s lawyer in an office conference room. No judge is present and the atmosphere is somewhat informal. Often there will be snacks or even lunch and you can dress casually.
However, depositions are serious business. Opposing counsel (your employer’s lawyer) can ask you just about anything, including:
- what you remember about how your accident happened
- what you told the doctor about where you were hurt
- how you gave notice to your supervisor
- your current medical status
- any prior injuries that impacted the same part of your body where you are now injured
- any problems in the past you may have had with drug or alcohol use
- any prior criminal history you may have
- any prior work injury claims you may have filed
As you can see, opposing counsel can ask you just about anything. These deposition questions are part of the discovery process provided for under Georgia law. Both sides to a dispute can ask just about anything to an opposing witness. We also have the right to ask probing and intrusive questions should we choose to depose your supervisor, witnesses to your accident or treating physicians. I also use the deposition process to develop evidence about your medical condition by deposing the doctors who have treated you.
Depositions Used for Cross Examination
Opposing counsel use depositions for two main purposes.
First, they want to see and hear how you testify. Do you speak with clarity and clear recollection? Do you get confused with details? Do you come across as believable? How do you react when challenged?
Second, they want to get you on the record regarding statements about your injury, your treatment and your past. If you later on change your story, opposing counsel can use your deposition testimony to cross examine you and try to show the judge that you do not tell the truth and should not be believed.
Now that you know why you are being deposed, you can focus on preparing for your testimony.
How to Prepare for Your Deposition
Your deposition will be a lot less scary if you prepare for it properly. After all, you know better than anyone what happened when you were injured, your medical history and how your current medical treatment is progressing. The key to successful deposition testimony is preparation. If you and I take the time to practice answering the questions you are likely to get at your deposition you will feel much more comfortable during your actual testimony. Remember that I used to work for a law firm that represented employer and insurance companies so I know the types of questions they will ask.
You are bound to be nervous when facing questions from a lawyer who represents the opposing party (your employer and their insurer). I will help you reduce your stress by practicing with you. The key to successful deposition testimony is to always tell the truth, clearly and directly. If you do not know the answer to a question, it is ok to say so.
When we practice I will help you get rid of meaningless statements like “I can’t sit very long” or “I can’t lift very much.” I will help you avoid surprises and mistakes that you might make because you are nervous.
The Best Result From Your Deposition
Make no mistake: opposing counsel does not take your deposition to help you. Your employer’s lawyer is looking for inconsistencies in your story and inaccuracies in your testimony. However, when you are properly prepared and you demonstrate that you can answer opposing counsel’s questions clearly and believably, the settlement value of your case will go up. Many times the deciding factor in a contested workers’ compensation case has to do with your credibility, and my experience has been that with proper preparation anyone can do well in a deposition.
If you have questions about a Georgia work injury I invite you to call me to discuss your case.