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Law Offices of Jeremy K. Lusk, Inc.

Are depositions in workers' comp the same as on tv?

I have a workers’ compensation deposition scheduled next week.  I have watched court shows on television, and I am terrified of this, I do not want to be held in contempt of court.  Are these depositions the same as the court shows on television? 

Generally, no.  The depositions are meant to be an informal process to obtain information.  Your attorney will be there to protect your rights from the defense attorney who will be asking the questions.  However, there are a few attorneys who may become over-aggressive and act inappropriately.  Your attorney will let the other attorney know that is in appropriate.  The following are a couple of scenarios that could play out during the deposition. 

They attorney may try to get a specific answer from a witness by asking the same question and then tweak it a little.  These may be repeatedly asked to attempt to make it look like the injured worker is giving inconsistent answers. For example, the questions might start asking generally about neck pain and then try to get a different answer changing the description of the type of pain they feel. This could make the injured worker feel like the prior answers were different from the answers he or she gave later. The applicant will be frustrated and feel like his or her answers are inadequate.

Your attorney will likely enter an 'asked and answered' objection to get the other attorney to stop.  There will than likely be a discussion about this.  If push comes to shove, then the deposition can be continued at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board in front of a judge.  The judges are very busy and will not be happy about handling a matter like this.  This type of dispute, however, is generally resolved between the attorneys. 

An attorney is not allowed to threaten to present criminal, administrative, or disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute.

The attorney asking the questions will inform the injured worker that lying to obtain workers' compensation benefits could be fraud subjected to criminal prosecution.  However, any threats made toward the witness or her family is unethical and subjects the questioning attorney to California State Bar discipline. Attorneys representing the injured worker are versed of these threats that make a witness feel criminalized for pursuing a work injury.   She will likely confront the attorney who is making these threats against her client.  As mentioned above the deposition may be continued at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.  Generally, depositions in workers' compensation cases are far less dramatic than what is shown on television.

If you have questions about your workers' compensation injury and want to talk to an attorney in Fresno, please call 1(559) 408-7436 or fill out the form to the right.