How Depositions Work in Personal Injury Claims

  • When a lawsuit is filed in a personal injury case, one of the major steps to develop the suit is through the discovery process. This is the legal mechanism by which each side of the lawsuit gets information from the other side that could be helpful to make their claim.

     

    One of the most important types of discovery is the deposition process. A deposition is a statement given out of court – under oath. The person who is giving this sworn statement is called the deponent.

     

    Testimony in a deposition can be given as evidence in a personal injury trial, especially if the trial testimony differs in a substantial way from the testimony given in the deposition.

     

    Who Is At a Deposition?

     

    The people who attend a deposition usually are:

     

    • The individual being deposed
    • Parties to the personal injury lawsuit
    • Attorneys for both parties
    • A person who has the qualifications to administer oaths (usually a court reporter).

     

    The court reporter records all testimony that is given and assembles a written transcript that both sides to the suit will receive upon request. The judge and other court personnel are not usually involved in the deposition process.

     

    You Will Probably Be Deposed

     

    If you file a personal injury lawsuit, it is highly likely that the defendant’s attorney will depose you. Most states require both parties in a lawsuit to give a deposition if the other side of the dispute asks for it.

     

    The counsel for the defense should be considerate in finding a time and date that is reasonable and convenient for you. If you have retained a lawyer, they can help you get ready for the deposition; but you are not required to be represented by an attorney in order to give a deposition (although it is highly recommended).

     

    The defense attorney will ask you a lot of questions during the deposition. Many questions will look for personal and background information on you – such as your full name, physical address, family members, and whether you are currently on medications.

     

    The attorney will inquire about your memories of the events regarding the situation that led to your injury, such as a car accident. They may ask where you were going while driving; they are probing to determine whether you were in a rush and may have contributed to your own injuries.

     

    The defense attorney almost certainly will have reviewed your medical records before the deposition. You will be asked to provide more information about the information in the medical records. If you are asking for lost earnings, they will ask you about your work history, duties on the job, how much you earn, and why you could not work after your injury.

     

    You need to listen carefully to every question. Answer everything honestly. If you do not have an answer, do not guess. Say “I don’t know.” It can be annoying to answer dozens of questions that may seem intrusive or irrelevant to the case. But it is always best to be patient and polite during this process.

     

    Defendant Being Deposed

     

    This is the opportunity for you and/or your attorney to talk to the defendant and get information about the events that led to the car crash. Speaking with that person personally is helpful to determine what kind of witness they will be at trial.

     

    Your attorney will get basic information about the defendant and confirm that he or she was the person driving the car that hit you. It is important to ask in detail about all events that led up to the crash and get their version of what happened. Ask the defendant whether there were any witnesses, and see whether they were using their cell phone when the accident happened. Determining whether the person was in a hurry or running errands is critical as well.

     

     

    Summary

     

    The deposition process is a vital part of the personal injury lawsuit process, for both the plaintiff and defendant. If you have questions, ask a licensed personal injury attorney in your state for more information about depositions.