During a deposition, a witness gives testimony while under oath.
The legal process can be confusing and overwhelming for people who have been injured in any type of accident. With unfamiliar terms, the involvement of way too many lawyers and a drawn-out process, it can be intimidating for the average person.
Understanding the steps of the legal process can help you as you move through your personal injury case. In civil cases — such as personal injury cases — after a lawsuit is filed, the parties exchange information during what is known as discovery. Depositions are a type of discovery where the attorneys for one side question witnesses for the other side. Read on to learn more about this essential part of your personal injury case.
What Happens at a Deposition?
At a deposition, the other side’s attorney gets to ask witnesses questions that they are required to answer. The witnesses are under oath and there is a court reporter taking down notes (it may also be videotaped). However, unlike a trial, no judge or jury is present at a deposition. Instead, it is just the witnesses, their personal injury attorney, a court reporter, and the lawyer or lawyers for the other side.
If you’re called as a witness in a deposition, your attorney can help you by objecting to questions and attempting to control the process as much as possible. However, with a few exceptions, you will generally be required to answer the questions that are asked, which may seem invasive or overly personal. Remember that you are under oath and the court reporter is taking down everything, and be careful about what you say.
During the deposition, the other party’s attorney will ask a series of questions. While every deposition is different, in personal injury cases, the questions tend to follow a pattern. The lawyer will likely ask you for basic information, such as your marital status, if you have children, what your educational background is, and what your work situation is. Next, the attorney will likely move onto the accident itself, asking you to describe what happened and when it happened. Finally, the lawyer will question you about your injuries and the medical care you have received. Unless the attorney is asking questions that are protected by law — for example, about privileged conversations that you had with your own personal injury lawyer — you will likely be required to answer. Your attorney may object and then later ask the judge to prevent the evidence from being used in court.
Preparing for a Deposition
Before your deposition, you should meet with your personal injury attorney to go over the rules for the deposition, the issues that will be discussed and any problems that may arise.
At the deposition, it is important to remember to only answer the specific question that was asked. Do not volunteer information or ramble, and never guess. If you don’t know the answer, say that you don’t know. If you don’t understand the question, ask the attorney to rephrase it. You are welcome to request a break if you need one. While a deposition may seem stressful, it doesn’t have to be with the proper preparation and understanding of the ground rules before going into it.
If you have been hurt in any type of an accident, you will need the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. At the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, we have helped thousands of people recover for their injuries. Contact our office today at 800-333-0000 or email@example.com to schedule a free initial consultation. We never charge a fee unless we get money for you!