If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you will likely have to participate in a deposition. Many personal injury cases are settled before they make it to a courtroom, so this may be the only time that you have to be addressed by the other side’s counsel. Being questioned by the opposing attorney in a deposition may cause some anxiety and nervousness if you don’t know what to expect. The following information is meant to help you calm those feelings and have a better idea of what a deposition is like and what sorts of questions you’ll be asked. But first, you need to know exactly what a deposition is.
What is a Deposition?
Simply put, a deposition is a session of questions and answers with the opposing side’s attorney. You will be asked questions by that attorney, but you will have your attorney present there as well. There will also be a court reporter present who will take down everything that is said so that it is on record. Sometimes depositions are videotaped, but it isn’t always the case.
Why Do You Have to Do a Deposition?
When a personal injury case is filed, both sides have a right to find out what information and evidence the opposing side has in order to prepare for trial (if the case doesn’t settle). The other side is entitled to hear and see all the information you have about the event that caused your injuries and your medical records that pertain to the injuries. They are also entitled to hear your recollection and impressions of the event.
What Types of Questions Are Asked in a Deposition?
For a personal injury case, you will likely be asked background questions and questions that pertain to the event and your injuries.
Background questions include:
- What is your current address? What are your previous addresses for the last 5/10/15 years?
- What is your current occupation? Are you self-employed? What is your current salary? Where have you been employed in the past? What were the reasons for leaving those positions?
- Have you been involved in any lawsuits or legal claims in the past? If so, what types of claims were they?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of any misdemeanors or felonies?
- What illnesses and injuries have you had in the past? Who were your doctors and what is their contact information?
About the event and your injuries, you will be asked to:
- Describe the details that led to your injury. (The attorney will then ask you to walk through every aspect of the event in as detailed a manner as you can. This can be very tedious and time consuming in some cases, so be prepared to explain every minute detail of the event or accident.)
- Describe the details of your injuries. (This will include information about every doctor who treated you, how you were referred or came to see each doctor, the status of your medical bills, whether you have been able to work since your injury, etc.)
- Describe the limitations you are experiencing due to the injuries. (Be prepared to back this up with medical records. The opposing counsel will not neglect to ask about this, especially if you are claiming temporary or permanent disability.)
Things to Remember During Your Deposition
Your deposition is a question and answer meeting, not a conversation. It should not feel like a conversation with an old friend. Think through your answers before you speak and make sure that you give the most accurate answer. It’s perfectly fine to pause for a minute before you answer.
Your answers should only be one sentence long. While you do want to answer the question, you don’t want to give more information than you are asked. If the attorney needs more information, then he can ask follow-up questions.
You don’t have to be afraid to say, “I don’t remember” or “I don’t understand.” It’s natural to want to be able to give an answer, but unless you are 100 percent sure of the accuracy of your answer and the meaning of the question, fight the urge. Telling the other attorney that you can’t remember or asking for clarification about a question is much better than giving you best guess.
When you are asked yes or no questions, you don’t have to give yes or no answers. The opposing attorney’s job in a deposition is to lock you into your answers. To combat that, try saying something like, “As far as I can remember” instead of yes, and “I don’t recall that happening” instead of no.
Remember that your attorney will be there beside you, looking out for your case’s best interest, and he or she will support you and guide you through the process.
The Right Attorneys for Your Personal Injury Case
If you believe that you have a personal injury case, the attorneys at Ross Feller Casey can help you. We have experienced litigators to get you through every part of your legal case, including depositions. Contact us for your free case evaluation, and we will help you proceed.
All of our personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay unless you receive a monetary award for your case.