Under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act, a primary discovery tool of gathering evidence from an injured worker comes in the form of depositions; [Deposition in a Florida Workers Compensation Case]. Depositions are essentially question and answer sessions involving injured workers, employer witnesses, insurance adjusters, as well as medical providers. The purpose of depositions is to gather evidence and information, or information that leads to evidence that would be admissible in a trial prior before a Judge of Compensation Claims. While adjusters offer testimony about what has occurred in a claim, and doctors testify regarding their opinions, the only party to the action that has likely never been deposed before is the injured worker. An attorney cannot testify for you, and objections, in a typical sense, can be rare, given the wide latitude of areas covered.
Deposition in a Florida Workers Compensation Case
THE DEPOSITION SETTING
During the context of a typical workers’ compensation deposition, the deposition room will consist of the following individuals:
- The injured worker
- His/her attorney
- The defense attorney (the attorney representing the insurance company)
- A court reporter. The court reporter is given the responsibility of transcribing the questions and answers. The court reporter will begin the deposition process by putting the injured worker under oath. The oath is an important concept in a workers’ compensation case or any other legal matter. It means the individual swears to tell the truth in response to questions posed by the defense attorney. Consequently, it is extremely important that you keep in mind the following rules prior to your deposition:
If you answer a question during the course of a Deposition in a Florida Workers Compensation case, it will be assumed you fully understood the question and its meaning. The following questions are typically asked during the course of a Florida workers’ compensation deposition:
- Age, educational background, marital status, children, prior work history.
- Medical history, including general health questions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
- Information regarding prior accidents in general such as slip and falls, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, etc.
- Prior workers’ compensation injuries should be discussed, even if those injuries were minor. If an accident was reported, or if medical treatment or indemnity benefits were received, that is an established workers’ compensation claim. You can assume the insurance company is aware of any and all prior workers’ compensation accidents, motor vehicle accidents, hospital admissions, doctor visits, etc. The carrier will have information regarding the nature of all of these injuries, so it is best to be sure to acknowledge the nature of the injuries and the extent of any treatment you received. A failure to do so is one of the most serious problems in a workers’ compensation case.
- Job title at the time of the accident, including information regarding salary, hours, schedule and fringe benefits.
- Job description.
- How the workers’ compensation accident happened.
- The nature of the injuries sustained, and whether there were any witnesses to the accident.
- To whom the workers’ compensation accident was reported and when.
- Where you were first sent for treatment by the employer or the workers’ compensation carrier.
- Where you have received treatment from various authorized workers’ compensation medical providers or other physicians you have seen on your own outside of the workers’ compensation system.
- Your current authorized workers’ compensation treatment including diagnostic testing, physical therapy, medications, surgeries, etc.
- Your current work status. This would include an explanation as to whether you continue to work for the employer, the number of hours per week you are working, the nature of the job you are doing at present, etc. If you are no longer working for the employer, you will be required to answer questions about whether work was offered to you within your restrictions, etc. If you are working for another employer, you will need the name of the employer, job description, and nature of your work/salary, etc.
- Questions regarding whether you have applied for unemployment or Social Security disability. Individuals who have been injured in Workers’ compensation accidents are often terminated because of an inability to perform past relevant work. Those individuals can pursue a claim for unemployment benefits. If those individuals also can demonstrate they have been unable to work for a period of 12 consecutive months as a result of injury or illness, they can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
The key components of any deposition in a workers’ compensation case tend to be the following:
- A discussion of your past work history
- A discussion of your past medical health history, including a list of any physicians you have seen in recent years
- A discussion of your past injury history, including not only any prior workers compensation accidents, but any personal injury accident, such as automobile accidents, slip and falls, sports injuries, etc.
- A discussion of whether you have ever received treatment for the part of your body injured in this workers’ compensation case
In terms of past medical health history, you might list the name of any current primary care provider or treating physicians you have. You should then list as many other providers as you have had in recent years, as far back as you can remember, and the medical conditions for which those physicians provided treatment. You can then discuss the names of the providers involved in your current workers’ compensation claim.
A deposition is an extremely important event and should be treated as such. You should prepare with your attorney prior to the deposition, and go over any specific areas in question prior to the deposition. Your attorney can never speak for you in a deposition–therefore, preparation is key and just thinking/talking about the history, gets you better in tune with discussing remote history.
Our workers’ compensation attorney in Tampa has extensive experience dealing with injured workers – and the various issues that arise in workers’ compensation cases. We help ensure your claim is filed correctly and you receive the help you need to get back on your feet and back to work. Schedule a consult today at our website here.