All About Depositions in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Parties in a personal injury lawsuit are often called to attend depositions. A deposition allows the opposing sides to obtain information before they proceed to trial. The plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys can depose each other’s clients and witnesses to determine the facts of the case.
Although a deposition might seem scary, it’s a straightforward process. However, what you say can be used against you during the trial. Your lawyer can help you prepare for your deposition so that you know how to respond to each question and avoid saying something that could damage your case.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a valuable tool in personal injury lawsuits. As a deponent, you must appear at a predetermined location on the scheduled date and time to provide testimony to the opposing attorney. You will be under oath during the deposition, meaning your answers must be accurate and honest.
The purpose of a deposition is for opposing lawyers to gather essential details of a case, such as the nature of the plaintiff’s injury and the defendant’s actions in the moments leading up to the accident. The information can help determine the weaknesses and strengths of each party’s case.
Another purpose of a deposition is to determine how someone will testify during the trial. Your lawyer or opposing counsel might use the information they obtain as part of their strategy while arguing their case before a jury.
What Happens at a Deposition?
A deposition is an essential aspect of a personal injury lawsuit. What you say during your deposition can positively or negatively influence your performance on the stand.
The deposition may occur in an attorney’s office or a neutral location. The attorneys for both parties will be present, and there will be a court reporter in the room who will swear you in and record everything that is said during the session.
Once you’re sworn in under oath, the deposition will start. The opposing counsel can begin asking you questions about the case. The answers you provide are a matter of public record, so you must answer them truthfully.
Maintaining a calm demeanor during the deposition is crucial. You should avoid anger or frustration while the defense attorney questions you. They will likely start with fundamental questions about your background, including:
- Your name
- Your address
- Where you work and your employment history
- Your current salary and financial position
The attorney can also ask whether you were involved in other lawsuits or claims and obtain information about those cases. You should prepare to discuss your criminal history if you were arrested or charged with a crime in the past. You might also have to explain injuries and illnesses you have had during your life or within a specific timeframe.
After asking for basic information and details of your past, the attorney can proceed with questions about the current lawsuit. They might ask for information, such as:
- The nature and severity of your injury
- Your actions immediately before the accident
- The type of treatment you sought for your injury
- Whether and in what ways the accident affected your daily routine
- The names of your doctors and their specialties
- Reasons why you sought treatment with specific medical providers
- The duration of each form of treatment
How Depositions Affect a Personal Injury Case
Although depositions don’t occur in court, your sworn testimony carries as much weight as it would if you testified on the witness stand. Providing the most accurate and honest answers possible is critical.
Your words can come back to bite you later if you lie, exaggerate, or omit relevant information during your deposition. Saying something during the trial that contradicts what you said during the deposition can show you’re not credible. The defense lawyer might read your testimony from the deposition transcript to point out the inconsistencies in your story.
You can take your time when opposing counsel questions you. Depositions don’t have time limits. Carefully consider what the lawyer asks and decide how to phrase your answer without providing too much or unnecessary information. You can pause between hearing the question and giving your answer if necessary.
You should ask the attorney to repeat the question or clarify what they asked if you need help understanding. It’s better to answer accurately than provide an irrelevant response. If you don’t know the answer to something, saying you don’t know is acceptable. You must avoid guessing or speculating about the case. It will look like you lied if you remember the facts later and change your story.
The opposing counsel might use various tactics to alter the nature of your answer. The lawyer could summarize the case with accurate information and include details inconsistent with your original statements. They will ask if the summary is substantially correct, hoping you’ll overlook the incorrect information and say yes. If the statement isn’t entirely accurate, advise them that it doesn’t represent your initial testimony.
Your only responsibility as a witness or the accident victim is to answer the questions you’re asked with the facts you know about the case. You don’t have to elaborate on circumstances with your opinions or beliefs about what happened. Avoid justifying your actions or explaining specific answers you give during the deposition. Providing one-word responses is acceptable if the word addresses the purpose of the question.
Contact an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Lawyer Today
A deposition can be overwhelming. However, adequate preparation can alleviate stress and prepare you for the process. Your lawyer can discuss the case in detail with you and advise you about the types of questions you can expect. A mock deposition can help you answer every potential question carefully and honestly.
At Loewy Law Firm, we have a track record of success in personal injury cases. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients since 2005. Our team focuses on providing dependable customer service and one-on-one attention to every person who hires us.
If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, do not hesitate to call our Austin personal injury attorney at (512) 957-9858 for your free consultation. We are ready to represent you and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.