One upside to the pandemic is that courts seem more likely to order video or remote depositions. This is a meaningful win for workers like truckers who are forced to file claims for workers compensation in distant states.
Free to work where you want, but not free to claim workers compensation where you want
Over the road drivers are stuck in a legal and constitutional conundrum when that are injured at work. Under the privileges and immunities clause, Article IV, Section 2 of the United States Constitution Americans can live and work anywhere in the United States. One part of American nationhood is the economic union among the states.
But when workers compensation laws were enacted, workers compensation laws had to be enacted on a state level. Later laws codified insurance laws such as workers compensation laws as state laws.
What this means is that workers who get hired by a company in a distant state or are injured in a distant state have to pursue claims in a distant state.
Practical effects of travel costs on workers compensation claimants
A worker with a workers compensation claim in Nebraska is looking at a minimum of $600 in travel costs and a two day trip if they are coming from either coast to Nebraska. That assumes you are close to a major airport.
It seems burdensome, expensive and unconstitutional to require a blue collar worker who might not be receiving workers compensation benefits to make this treck for a two hour deposition.
But pre-pandemic Nebraska courts routinely required this trip. But with the use of remote technology like Zoom, courts are allowing plaintiffs to appear remotely for depositions. A few weeks ago I had a federal magistrate judge allow a client from Georgia appear remotely for a deposition in a personal injury case here in Nebraska. Many judges also like Zoom for routine hearings.
In short, as Judges get more familiar with remote hearings, they might be more inclined to listen to arguments about why forcing in person depositions for out of state plaintiffs is unfair, unreasonable and even unconstitutional. My guess is that there will be a growing body of case law that supports these arguments.