What is a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case?
A deposition is often referred to as an “out-of-court testimony” because they are used to question a party to the case, such as a witness, defendant, or plaintiff. A deposition occurs after your lawsuit has been filed but before your lawsuit goes to trial so that lawyers can gather first-hand accounts from those involved about what happened during the incident in question. Both sides of a personal injury lawsuit can use a deposition to gather more information from the other party.
A personal injury case
is a legal proceeding that is used by an injured person to seek compensation for damages because of another party’s negligence. Some of the most common types of personal injury claims include:
In all of these types of cases, a deposition will likely be part of the proceedings if pre-trial negotiations are not successful and the case has to be taken to trial.
Why is a Deposition Important?
Depositions are used during the discovery process of your lawsuit and offer both sides the opportunity to acquire vital information to be used in the trial process or while trying to negotiate a settlement
before actually going to trial. A deposition can help to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a case and to uncover more evidence.
Depositions are also used to get an idea of how the other party sees the situation and to see what they may say at the upcoming trial. This is helpful for preparing testimony, building legal arguments, and preventing surprises during trial. A deposition transcript can also be used to cross examine a witness at trial.
Further, a deposition also serves as an opportunity to present your side of the story when questioned. Your attorney will help prepare you for your deposition so that you are comfortable and so that you don’t say something that could unintentionally damage your case.
Do You Have to Attend a Deposition?
Yes, you are required to attend a deposition when you move forward with a civil lawsuit. Your attorney will prepare you to answer a series of questions about yourself and the accident. Depositions tend to stress people out since most people have never done one, but your attorney will be there with you the entire time to help you through the process.
What Can I Expect from a Deposition?
A deposition is centered around getting more information about a person and their involvement in the personal injury incident. Because of this, everything that is said during the interview can be important. It’s likely that the deposition will be recorded by a court reporter and some are on video as well.
Depositions are usually held in a conference room or office. They do not take place in a courtroom.
You can expect the parties present to include: your attorney, the opposing attorney(s), a court reporter or stenographer, and possibly some other party involved in the case like an assistant attorney or insurance representative. The person who injured you or who is filing a case against you will not typically be present.
You can expect to be asked questions in a variety of different categories. These include:
Personal Details: This will include questions to get personal details, including your name, address, and a history of your background if it is relevant. These are simple questions aimed at getting started and collecting some basic information.
Prior Physical Condition: Next, the interviewer will likely ask you about your life before the accident. They will ask in-depth questions about your health prior to the accident to see if anything could have been affected by pre-existing conditions or if anything to do with your prior health could have affected your injuries. You may also be asked questions regarding your activity level and lifestyle and before the accident so that a clear image of your health prior to and following your injury can be established.
About the Accident: You’ll then be asked about the accident and how it happened in your own words. If there’s something you don’t remember clearly, try not to guess or make assumptions about things you can’t recall. It is perfectly acceptable to say you can’t remember or don’t know.
Your Injury: During this time, you’ll be asked about your injuries and how they have affected your life. The investigator will ask you about how the injury occurred, what medical treatment you received, and about your recovery. Make sure you stick to the facts and only answer questions you know the answer to. Again, do not guess here. You are not a doctor or expert, so some questions may be out of your scope of knowledge. That is okay; just say you don’t know.
Post-Accident Life: And finally, you’ll be asked about what your life has been like since the accident occurred. You’ll likely be asked if you’ve been struggling with physical, mental, or financial well-being after the incident. This is a good time to give clear answers and examples that relate to the hardships you’ve faced because of your injuries.
What Kinds of Questions are Asked at a Deposition?
As we have described above, you will be asked a variety of questions in a variety of categories to create a clear picture of what happened. But to get you more familiar with the types of questions asked at a deposition, here are some example questions you may be asked during a deposition:
- Have you had any major injuries in the past?
- Have you ever had a major surgery or medical treatment?
- Walk us through what happened when the accident occurred.
- What were you doing immediately before the accident?
- What did you do immediately after the accident?
- Who did you talk to after the accident and what did they say?
- What injuries did you suffer?
- Were you treated right away?
- Who has treated your injuries?
- What did your follow-up care require?
- What costs have you incurred because of the accident?
Of course, this is just a few examples of some major questions that will be asked. There are likely to be many more general and follow-up questions for clarification.
How Should I Behave at a Deposition?
Going into a deposition can be nerve-racking, but an experienced personal injury attorney
will help prepare you before the day of the interview to ensure you’re comfortable and feel ready.
During your deposition, you should be both professional and polite. You’ll want to dress neatly and make sure that you’re on time. Try to avoid any small talk that could give away extra information. And avoid anything that makes it seem like you are not taking it seriously. Some people make jokes or get chatty when they are nervous, but this can give off the wrong impression. Just answer the questions they ask and move on. If you don’t understand a question, ask for further clarification.
It’s also important to take your time throughout a deposition. Rushing through questions can lead to unintentional errors, inaccurate information, or slip-ups.
Keep in mind that you’ll be under oath during your deposition, so only tell the truth regarding how you remember the events. If you don’t remember something about your incident, it’s okay to say you don’t remember. “I’m not sure” is a perfectly acceptable answer during a deposition.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me During a Deposition?
A personal injury attorney’s goal is to make sure that you are as comfortable and prepared as possible for your deposition. Your attorney will let you know everything to expect, how to answer questions, and help you to practice answering possible questions so that you feel prepared. Your attorney will also be present during the deposition so that you feel supported and so that they can object to irrelevant or misleading questions.
If you were injured because of another party’s negligence and you need help sorting it out, the attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help. Contact us today by using our online form
, by chatting with us below, or by calling us at 855-529-2442
. We look forward to speaking with you.