Filing a personal injury lawsuit will open the doors to many terms and legal processes you may be unfamiliar with. The one that seems to give claimants the most anxiety, however, is deposition. A deposition does not have to be daunting. A well-prepared deposition can be critical to the success of your case. Work with a personal injury attorney for assistance preparing for one.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a question-and-answer session between a party involved in a personal injury claim and an attorney. In general, if you have to give a deposition during your personal injury claim, you will be answering questions from the other party’s attorney (the deponent). You will answer these questions truthfully and to the best of your ability while under oath. Anything you say during the deposition can be used as evidence in court if your case goes to trial.
A deposition typically does not take place inside a courtroom. Instead, you will go to an attorney’s office to give the deposition. In the room, there will be you, your attorney, the other side’s attorney and a court reporter. The reporter will record the deposition and transcribe it so it can be used in document format during a trial. The presence of your lawyer during a deposition can help you answer the questions in a way that will not hurt your rights or your case.
What Personal Injury Cases Require Depositions?
A deposition is part of the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit. It occurs after a plaintiff files a personal injury lawsuit but before the actual trial. The discovery phase of a lawsuit gives both sides of the case an opportunity to gather more information, evidence and documentation based on what the other side already knows. Depositions are typically spoken interviews, while interrogatories are written questions.
If your personal injury case settles before you have to file a lawsuit, you will not have to go through a deposition. If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement or denies your claim, however, you may need to go up against the defendant at trial. In this scenario, expect a deposition. If a deposition is part of your personal injury case, you have no choice but to participate. Upon receiving a notice of deposition, going in for questioning is mandatory.
How to Prepare for a Deposition
If you find out you will have to participate in a deposition, don’t panic. While it is true that a deposition can be very important to your case, there are ways you can prepare ahead of time for the most successful session. Work with a lawyer for in-depth information about what to expect.
- Review the facts. The deposition will be your opportunity to provide testimony on the record as to what happened. Establish the facts and circumstances in your own words and ahead of time. That way, the words will come to you even if you’re nervous during the deposition.
- Go over possible questions with your attorney. Your lawyer will have years of experience attending depositions with clients. He or she can give you example questions the attorney will most likely ask you, so you can prepare answers in advance.
- Take your time. Do not let anything, including the attorney asking the questions, pressure you during a deposition. Take your time listening and understanding the questions, as well as answering them clearly and succinctly. You can ask for breaks whenever you wish.
The typical deposition starts with questions about your basic personal information. Then, it will go into your physical condition before the accident and a description of your current injuries. You will also get to describe the accident in your own words. At the end of the deposition, you will testify about how your life has changed after the accident.
A lawyer can help you prepare for a deposition, including giving you tips on what to say and what not to say. Your lawyer can also give you advice on how to conduct yourself, plus accompany you into the actual room. For more information about personal injury depositions, consult with a lawyer near you.