Minnesota workers’ compensation has many abbreviations that get used by adjusters, attorneys, employers, etc. Understanding what they represent is a difficult task for employee’s who have never dealt with workers’ compensation. The following is a list of common abbreviations and terms used. Some people may abbreviate terms differently, but hopefully it will provide some guidance in distinguishing the various abbreviations.
One of the more difficult parts of the Minnesota workers’ compensation system is understanding how the process works. For many injured workers this is the first time they have ever had an injury. At times the process can be like assembling IKEA furniture – frustrating and oftentimes, stressful. Fortunately, there are lawyers (including myself) that are experienced and can provide guidance through the process.
You have filed a workers’ compensation claim on a disputed case and then you get a letter from your lawyer indicating the adverse attorney has scheduled your deposition. Bad Perry Mason re-runs come to mind. You get unwanted advice about how to testify from various friends and relatives. You have lots of questions. First and foremost – you wonder whether the other attorney is allowed to even take your deposition.
The answer is yes. Although the Rules governing discovery in workers’ compensation cases suggest that an order is required for a deposition, the usual practice is that discovery depositions of injured workers are routinely allowed in contested cases. If no litigation is pending, however, you may have an argument that you don’t need to give one.
A deposition is sworn testimony in front of a court reporter. In other words, the other attorney gets to ask you questions about your case and other background information while your attorney listens. If appropriate, your attorney can object to the questions asked.
A lawyer takes a deposition for three basic reasons:
- To find out facts;
- To pin a witness down; and
- To get a sense for how the witness presents.
It’s important to keep these three underlying reasons in mind when giving your own deposition. Although every lawyer will give you a different set of instructions, the following is an outline of what I tell my clients before their deposition:
- Tell the truth: it’s the right thing to do, it’s the easiest thing to do, and the other side will find out anyway.
- Don’t volunteer. In other words, only answer the question that was put to you. Don’t go beyond the question when giving an answer. “Minnesota-nice” isn’t going to get you anywhere when you are giving a deposition. If you talk too much — it usually comes back to haunt you in the end.
- Make sure you understand the question: there are many reasons a witness does not understand the question - if this occurs, simply ask for the question to be repeated or rephrased. Don’t answer something you did not understand.
- Don’t guess. This rule is almost as important as telling the truth. If you know the answer, give it. If you can make a reasonable approximation, then do that; however, if you don’t have a clue then simply state something to the effect of, “at this time I do not recall.” Remember, the other side is trying to pin you down, if you guess at answers you don’t know, you will not help your case.
- You are on your own once the deposition gets started. In other words, your lawyer is sitting next to you listening to your testimony. While your lawyer can object to improper questions, it is not your lawyer’s job to give you information on how to answer questions. You need to testify to the best of your own ability.
- Stick to your story. Some people find giving a deposition to be both confusing and unnerving. You get lots of different questions from a variety of angles. Regardless, as a witness, you know what you saw, felt, heard or tasted. Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns when asked if you are sure or if you might be mistaken.
Obviously, each deposition is different. Before your deposition, your lawyer should spend some time with you reviewing the important information and the questions that are likely to be asked. One final thought: if you are asked questions about a document, then make sure you review the document before you answer the question.
When you have a work related injury and you are unrepresented, there are several things you should keep in mind.
Top 10 List
- Report your injury to your supervisor, foremen or any other designated representative with your employer;
- Seek medical treatment;
- Request the assistance of a QRC to determine if you are a qualified employee for vocational assistance;
- Consult a lawyer if you have questions or if your benefits are discontinued or denied.
- Make sure to keep updated work restrictions;
- Save all important documents including medical records, incident reports, restrictions etc.;
- Submit mileage and out of pocket expenses to the insurer;
- Cooperate with medical treatment and vocational assistance;
- Keep track of job search efforts if you are not working;
- Be honest.
Please remember this list is not comprehensive but highlights some key items you should keep in mind. Please remember to consult with an attorney if you have questions.
If you have questions concerning your Minnesota workers’ compensation case, we at The Law Office of Thomas Mottaz are workers’ compensation attorneys willing to help. Contact us for a free consultation and we will answer your questions or help you find the right lawyer for your situation.