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Ledgerwood Law Group

Butte Disability Lawyer: Protecting Your Deposition Testimony From Absolutes

During the deposition for your Butte workers’ compensation claim, the defense attorney will ask you a number of questions designed to punch holes in your credibility. The trick to dealing with this type of inquisition is to avoid painting yourself into a corner with absolute answers.

Here are three of the most common mistakes we see people make in depositions when they haven’t been coached. While there isn’t really a substitute for preparation by a knowledgeable legal representative, we’ve also offered some basic pointers for managing this type of question on the spot.

The Memory Absolute

Assume that the defense attorney has done a hefty investigation into your medical history and pre-existing injuries. Ironically, he or she may know more about your work and medical history than you do.

Because of this, they may be able to ask you a question along the lines of “Have you ever filed a workers’ compensation claim before?”

It’s important to not answer questions like this definitively. If you’ve been in the workforce for a few decades, you may have filed a minor claim years ago that you’ve since forgotten. Instead of saying “No” in this situation—an innocent mistake that could be difficult to manage, should the attorney produce evidence to the contrary—consider a response like:

  • I do not recall.
  • I don’t remember doing so.
  • I don’t think so, but it’s possible.

The Innocent Overstatement

The defense will also ask you questions about your physical limitations. When it comes to this issue, you want to avoid absolute phrasing such as:

  • Always
  • Never
  • I cannot

Often, the defense is just waiting for you to slip with a statement like “I am never able to stand for more than 10 minutes” to reveal a video that shows you at the park, talking with a friend and standing for more than 10 minutes.

Instead of responding with an absolute, qualify. Qualify, qualify, and qualify. Instead of impaling yourself on ‘never,’ give a little more detail:

  • “Sometimes I am able to stand for longer periods of time; other days it’s too painful. It depends on how I feel.”
  • “Yes, I can sometimes stand for more than 10 minutes, but it’s painful.”
  • “On my better days, I can stand for fairly long periods of time, but usually I really hurt from it later.”
  • “How long I can stand depends on how effective my pain medication is.”

Do you need to know more about giving a successful deposition? Schedule a free consultation with a Butte worker’s injury attorney today. Call our offices at 888-761-7383. Also ask for our FREE report, The Northern California Workers’ Compensation Survival Manual.


Thomas Ledgerwood
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Proprietor Ledgerwood Law Group