Surviving a Deposition

A successful deposition involves three important factors:

1. Preparation;

2. Anticipation;

3. Information.

  • Obviously, a thorough, working knowledge of the claim file, particularly the Activity Log is essential. Prior to the deposition important documents and log entries should be marked for quick reference. It is often helpful to construct a time line of all events which occurred during the life of the claim. Preparation breeds confidence. Confidence levels the playing field between a claims professional and an attorney.

  • The adjuster should also anticipate (with the assistance of defense counsel) the areas of inquiry at the time of the deposition. Understanding Plaintiff counsel’s “game plan” in advance will also assist in preparing for the deposition.

  • Finally, the information provided should be clear, precise and, of course, absolutely accurate. A deposition is not a test. “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” are perfectly acceptable responses if in fact they are honest answers to straight forward questions.


  • Other things to consider in addition for questions about your involvement in the claim, be prepared for questions about the actions or decisions of other persons involved with the claim. Be prepared to explain any errors or problems with claims handling and provide a reasonable explanation for why things were done the way they were.

  • Understand the applicable law which applies to your claim. If necessary, request a consultation with your attorney to “walk through” the elements necessary to establish claim denial.

  • Be familiar with the Claims Manual or Claims Handling Guidelines which exist. To the extent that there is written information outlining recommended procedures and protocols you can anticipate that Plaintiff counsel has a copy (probably obtained in prior litigation).

  • You can bet that your background, education and training (or supposed lack thereof) will be a fertile ground for impeachment. It is recommended that the claims professional be prepared to discuss these issues in detail. It might be a good idea to compile a “mini-resume” which lists both in-house and external classes, seminars or presentations. It is also helpful to explain to the examining attorney the various resources available such as medical claim consultants, independent medical evaluators, etc. You should also have a clear understanding of the litigation file, including discovery responses filed on behalf of your company. If appropriate, copies of discovery responses should be reviewed and discussed with defense counsel. The Claims Representative should be as familiar with the litigation file as he or she is with the claims file.

  • A basic statement of the general grounds upon which benefits are being denied is generally all that is required from the Claims Representative. You are not charged with an accurate and detailed understanding of the law and you should not engage in any argument with Plaintiff counsel about what the law does or does not require. Your job is to simply talk about how the claim was handled.

  • You are entitled to take as much time as necessary to answer the question. For example, if requested to locate a document, make sure that you do so before answering any further questions. The parties are free to take a break to allow you to locate the information needed to continue your deposition.

  • If you attorney makes an objection wait for him to finish. Following the objection he should instruct you as to whether or not you are to answer the question. Once your attorney starts speaking you should stop speaking.

  • Never argue with an attorney. They are professionals and are better at it than you. Being argumentative means that your deposition will probably last much longer than it should have. Answer the questions politely and directly.

  • Understand that depositions of Adjusters are sometimes scheduled for purposes of intimidation. The threat of a deposition or the potential for being “roughed up” during testimony is the ultimate goal of Plaintiff counsel. The defense attorney should be able to control the latter. The prepared Claims Representative has nothing to worry about assuming that proper and thorough preparation has occurred.