George S. Henderson’s Law Blog

April 29, 2009

Workers Compensation Deposition – Part IV

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:15 pm

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Questions Pertaining To

The Body Part Injuries You Have Claimed

In denied claims you will also be asked questions about limitation in your activities of daily living, and pain levels. You will also be asked apportionment questions regarding prior awards, and prior injuries, and pre-existing medical conditions.

In both denied and admitted claims, you will be asked about anything that has been claimed in the statutory claim form as well as in the application for adjudication.

It would be a mistake for your attorney not to prepare you for all these potential issues. In our office we try to meet with the client the week before the deposition to prepare for the deposition. Preparation is crucial.

In this regard it is important for the employee who was hurt at work to understand the difference between a specific injury and a continuous trauma, or cumulative trauma (CT) claim. If you slipped and fell while in the company lunchroom and injured your neck for the first time, that would clearly be a specific injury. But if you developed carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendinitis, over six months, or two years time due to repetitive hand motion such as keyboarding, that would be recognized as a cumulative trauma (CT) injury. In your deposition, and when you are providing your treating doctor an injury history you need to distinguish and describe which type of injury you suffered.

If your application for adjudication contains both a physical injury claim and a psychiatric injury claim, or a claim for sleep loss, or sexual dysfunction, you need to be prepared to discuss those allegations. If you are unable to provide factual testimony to back up the allegations in the claim, or in the application, you will lose on that issue.

Thus for example, if you are claiming sleep disturbance due to your back injury/ psychiatric injury, you will need to explain how often you experience sleep disturbance, and how often you awake during the night and how long you actually sleep per night.

If you are claiming sexual dysfunction, you have given up your right to privacy on that issue and you will need to describe in detail how your sexlife is different now that you have been injured, and how it is different.

Lawyers and judges speak in terms of “compensable consequences” of an industrial injury. For example if you initially suffer a back injury which results in surgery, and the surgeon negligently performs surgery resulting in a much more severe injury, the employer must pay for all the consequences of the doctor’s malpractice. That is known as a “compensable consequence” of the original industrial injury because but for the original work injury the medical malpractice would not have occurred.

Likewise, if you suffer a serious back injury and were previously very active, but become inactive, gain weight and experience elevated blood pressure, or an unhealthy increase in blood sugar, either due to weight gain or stress, or both, that is a compensable consequence. It means that if a doctor documents in a report that your elevated blood pressure indirectly resulted from the original injury at work, your case just became much more valuable, and your lawyer needs to claim elevated blood pressure for you as an additional work injury. If that has been done, you will need to explain it in your deposition.

Another area of “compensable consequences” is medication effects. Many of our clients who are on strong pain medications experience a variety of side effects. These should all be reported to both your lawyer who can amend your claim and application and to your treating doctor who will report it in a medical report. Once that is done, you will be questioned about medication effects in your deposition.

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