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.
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 the record. Sometimes depositions are videotaped, but that isn’t always the case.
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.
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:
About the event and your injuries, you will be asked to:
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.
Most of your answers should only need to be one sentence long, because you want to give short, succinct, and direct answers that respond only to the question at hand. While you do want to answer the question directly, you are not being asked to give more information than what you are being asked to answer. If the attorney needs more information, then they will ask additional 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 your best guess.
When you are asked yes or no questions, you don’t have to give yes or no answers if doing so would force you to provide inaccurate testimony. The opposing attorney’s job in a deposition is to lock you in to your answers. Consider responding instead with qualifying phrases like, “As far as I can remember” instead of yes, or “I don’t recall that happening” instead of no, so long as your responses remain accurate.
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.
If you believe that you have a personal injury case, the attorneys at Ross Feller Casey can help you. We are experienced litigators that can get you through every part of your legal case, including depositions. Contact us for a free case evaluation, and we may 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.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.