Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Must I Attend My Minnesota Workers Compensation Deposition?


You hired an attorney to represent you in a workers compensation case and a short time later you receive a letter telling you to appear for YOUR deposition.  Holy cow, what do you do now?  You weren’t prepared for this.

Few things cause more anxiety for a injured workers than attending a deposition for their workers compensation case.  Having been deposed myself and having taken over a thousand depositions let me tell you that there's really no reason to be nervous.  With few exceptions, depositions in a Minnesota workers compensation claims are incredibly informal affairs that last 1-2 hours.  However, they can be extremely important in winning or losing your case if you don’t answer the questions truthfully, act like a jerk, or do not follow your attorney’s advice. 

Although every workers' compensation case has a unique set of facts and legal issues, depositions of injured workers usually follow a similar pattern and cover similar topics. 

1. Identifying InformationDefense attorneys will ask you to provide a great deal of information regarding yourself, including your:
  • Full Name
  • Maiden Name
  • Nickname
  • Current Address
  • Names of Residents at Current Address
  • Addresses During Last Five Years
  • Marital Status and Name of Husband or Wife
  • Names of Children and Other Dependents
  • Driver's License Number
  • Social Security Number
  • Whether you are a citizen of the United States
  • Whether you are legally able to work in the United States
  • Educational History
  • Criminal History

Although defense attorneys ask several questions regarding injured workers' background and personal history, the majority of these questions are intended to elicit general information and allow the attorney to "get a feel" for the injured worker.  Defense attorneys always ask injured workers whether they have been convicted of a felony, so don't be offended if you are asked this question.  You must disclose this information truthfully if asked during your deposition; therefore, you should be sure to speak with your attorney about any prior arrests or convictions before your deposition begins.

2. Previous EmploymentDefense attorneys likely will ask you to provide the following information regarding your employment history:
  • Names of Prior Employers
  • Addresses of Prior Employers
  • Dates of Prior Employment
  • Job Duties with Prior Employers
  • Names of Immediate Supervisors with Prior Employers
  • Whether you Suffered any Injuries with Prior Employers
  • Reason you Ceased Employment with Prior Employers

If you are asked about any prior on-the-job injuries, it is critical that you answer truthfully even if you had a prior on-the-job injury.  And this is true even if your prior on-the-job injury was the same or similar to your current on-the-job injury.  Similarly, if you were terminated by any prior employers, you must disclose any such terminations if you are asked.  Defense attorneys can easily obtain your prior medical and employment records, so lying to them or failing to disclose this type of information likely will allow them to impeach you and hurt your credibility.

3.  Previous Medical HistoryDefense attorneys usually cover your medical history very thoroughly.  In so doing, they will usually ask you whether you have suffered from any of the following:
  • Prior Non-Work-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Work-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Automobile Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Motorcycle Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Pedestrian Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Slip-and-Fall Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Sports-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Prior Military-Related Accidents/Injuries
  • Chronic Medical Conditions or Diseases
  • Names of Prior Medical Providers

You must disclose information regarding your past medical history if asked; therefore, if you have suffered any of the above-referenced accidents or injuries (or any others), you should speak with your attorney about them before your deposition.  Insurance companies have access to computerized records of injuries reported to any insurance company, and defense attorneys generally are able to obtain prior medical records, so there is no sense in lying about your prior medical history when asked.  You may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits even if you suffered from a prior injury or medical condition, but if you lie or fail to disclose this type of information when asked, you almost certainly will hurt your chances of receiving workers' compensation benefits.

4.  Description of On-the-Job AccidentWorkers' compensation in Minnesota is a "no fault" system, so, with some exceptions, the cause of your accident won't matter too much.  Your attorney should discuss your accident with you before your deposition, so if he or she does not, you should be sure to discuss this with them if you are concerned about it for any reason.

5.  Medical Treatment for On-the-Job InjuriesYou should be prepared to name all of the doctors who have examined or treated you for your on-the-job injury regardless of who sent you to each doctor.  In addition, you should be prepared to describe the type of treatment that each doctor provided and to explain whether and how the treatment improved your condition.

6.  Current DisabilityDefense attorneys always ask injured workers to list and explain their symptoms, and to explain how these symptoms limit their ability to perform work of any kind.  Along these lines, they will also ask injured workers to explain what types of work and non-work-related activities they could perform before their accidents but not after their accidents.  Finally, they usually ask injured workers what they have been doing in the spare time since their accidents.

The two important rules in closing that I always tell my clients before depositions are: (1) give short answers; and (2) tell the truth.  Most questions can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no", and perhaps a very brief explanation.  Never volunteer information that hasn't been specifically asked.  And tell the truth always - you never know if the carrier has been having an investigator follow you and perform video surveillance.  If you say you haven't done something, and they have you on videotape doing it, the judge won't believe a word you say. 

If your case has gotten to the point where you have a deposition scheduled, and don’t feel you are properly prepared, you should probably consult with attorney Thomas Atkinson at 651-333-3636 or visit us at  Your consultation is FREE and we never charge a fee unless we recover benefits for you!