In this article we will take a deeper look at depositions – what they are and their use in workers’ compensation cases.
A deposition is a discovery tool which allows the opposing party to gather information regarding the claim. A deposition is basically just questioning and answering questions under oath. While typically in workers’ compensation cases a deposition will be taken of the injured worker, a deposition may also be taken of witnesses and experts such as the doctors, i.e. the treating doctor or the Qualified Medical Evaluator.
Under Labor Code Section 5710 depositions may be taken. A deposition may be taken for many reasons. Generally, depositions are taken to gather information about the applicant’s injuries, prior injuries, medical treatment, etc. Usually it is the attorneys or hearing representatives involved in the case that take the deposition.
Typically, the injured worker will be prepared ahead of time for the deposition. Also present during a deposition may be a representative from the employer, i.e. someone from Human Resources or a supervisor.
As needed, there will an interpreter as well as the court reporter that takes down the transcript of the deposition and sends it out afterward.
Depositions may be used for impeachment or as evidence at a workers’ compensation trial. The testimony in a deposition is given the same weight as live testimony. Also, the deposition may be used to attack a witness’s credibility if testimony differs at the time of trial.
As a discovery tool in workers’ compensation cases depositions focus largely on the applicant’s injury claim; addressing such things as what hurts, how was the applicant hurt, was there prior injury. Insurance companies have a duty to investigate claims within the first 90 days of knowledge of a claim pursuant to Labor Code Section 5402. The deposition is one of the discovery tools commonly used.