You think you’re finally ready to testify in court. Your attorney has advised that you keep your answers short and to the point, and to take each question slowly to make sure your answers are accurate. But how can you prepare for questions that may be designed to trip you up or throw your testimony off balance?
Three Tips for Answering Questions in a Worker’s Compensation Deposition
The first thing to remember is that you must tell the truth in response to any questions you are asked. Your testimony is being taken under oath, and any untruthful answers may be seen as perjury and result in fines or jail time. When in doubt about how to answer a question, give a response as close to “yes” or “no” as you can.
While you must answer all questions truthfully, there are still many different ways to give an honest response. Consider the different ways a deponent could answer the following questions:
- Where do you have pain? Many deponents fall into the trap of nodding and pointing during a deposition. While it is natural to respond to a location inquiry by pointing, you must also state the location for the court record. By the same token, responding “uh-huh,” and “nope” are poor testimony; they are likely to be misheard by anyone in court, but they are also weak answers to questions that should matter a great deal to you.
- What was your diagnosis? Deponents should be wary of giving responses that involve specific medical procedures or diagnoses. You are not a doctor; you shouldn’t be expected to give more than a layman’s description of your injuries. Your attorney should have names of doctors and medical records that can be used to answer the questions instead.
- Did you have any other ailments before your work accident? It’s unlikely that you have never been hurt prior to your accident at work, but those may have been minor or completely forgotten in light of your new injury. Remember that the opposition may have access to your medical records, so anything you say must be backed up with evidence.
The defense attorney may also ask you questions regarding military service, surgeries, lasting pain, your physical abilities (such as climbing stairs), personal activities (such as travel), additional sources of income, and treatment if applicable.