If you are like most of our Vancouver personal injury litigation clients, news that the defense attorney wants to take your deposition makes you more than a little anxious. What is a deposition? What’s going to happen? Why do I have to give a deposition? These are just a few questions that you might have. In this article, we will cover the basics of a deposition so that you can relax and focus on the substance of your testimony.
Information + Preparation = Success
The formula for a successful deposition is simple: Information + Preparation = Success.
What is a Personal Injury Deposition?
A personal injury deposition is a pre-trial discovery procedure. Essentially, it is a question and answer session where an attorney finds out what a person knows about a case from that person’s answers, given under oath, to a series of questions asked by the attorney.
What is the Purpose of a Personal Injury Deposition?
The primary purpose of a deposition is to allow the attorney asking the questions to gather information and evidence (where, when, and how an accident and injury occurred), in an effort to evaluate a case’s weaknesses and strengths, and develop a strategy for trial or settlement.
Secondary purposes of a deposition are to preserve testimony for trial; determine how a person will testify at trial (do they speak well and are they likable); and determine what type of impression they will make on a jury (do they convey honesty). A deposition is also used to avoid surprise at trial and to assist in the questioning or impeaching of a witness.
What Happens at a Personal Injury Deposition?
Expect your deposition to take place in a conference room of the attorney conducting the questioning. Your attorney and a court reporter also will be present. The deposition will begin after all necessary parties (lawyers, yourself, and court reporter) have been introduced and when the court reporter states for the record his or her name, business address, date, time and location of the deposition. The court reporter will then administer an oath, asking you to swear to answer all questions truthfully, just as if you were testifying in a court of law. Thereafter, the attorney who requested the deposition will begin asking you questions. When the defense attorney is finished with his questions, your attorney may ask you a few questions to clarify your testimony or fill in gaps in the testimony, if necessary. After all questions have been asked and answered, the court reporter will note the official end-time of the deposition for the record, and the deposition will be concluded.
The court reporter will prepare a deposition transcript (a verbatim account of all that was said during the deposition), and you will have thirty days to review your answers and make any necessary changes.
What Type of Questions Will the Attorney Ask Me?
At most personal injury depositions there are three areas of substantive questioning: life before the accident (background information); questions about the accident (what happened?); and life after the accident (how did your life change after the accident?).
Life before the accident – You may be asked questions about the following:
- Your name, address, age, marital status, family, education, and employment history; complete history of all illnesses or injuries that you suffered before the accident; prior and subsequent accidents; prior, subsequent, and present unrelated personal injury claims or lawsuits.
Questions about the accident – You may be asked questions about the following:
- When, where, how, and why did the accident occur? What did you do? What injuries did you sustain in the accident? Did you receive medical treatment? What type of medical treatment did you receive? Are you currently receiving medical treatment and will you need treatment in the future? What medical expenses have you incurred and might you incur in the future? Did you have any wage loss and will you have any wage loss in the future?
Life after the accident – You may be asked questions about the following:
- How has your life changed since the accident? What can’t you do now that you could do before the accident? What impact have your injuries had on your everyday lifestyle, sexual relations, work, play, travel, leisure, and exercise? What medical aliments are you currently experiencing?
How Do I Prepare For My Deposition?
Based on our experience, our Vancouver personal injury litigation attorneys will try to anticipate the questions you may be asked and will review those questions with you. We also will review with you all documents related to your personal injury claim (pleadings, motions, interrogatories, police reports, medical reports, insurance claims, documents, photographs, emails, tweets, Instagram files, and letters). In addition, we will go over areas of concern or weakness in your case. Lastly, our Vancouver personal injury litigation attorneys will provide you with tools and tips to help you give your best testimony. For example:
- Listen to the complete question before you answer. This will allow you the opportunity to give the most complete and accurate answer and give your attorney the opportunity to object if necessary.
- Answer all questions accurately and truthfully.
- If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. Do not guess.
- Answer only the question asked. Do not volunteer information unless it is necessary to truthfully, completely, and accurately answer a question.
- Dress for your deposition as you would dress if you were testifying in court. Business attire or, at the very least, business casual is required.
Our Vancouver personal injury litigation attorneys will ensure that you are well informed and prepared to testify on the day of your deposition, so that success will follow naturally. If you would like to discuss your situation, please contact us. You can reach us by phone, at 360-810-5563, or by email by completing the Free Case Evaluation form on this page.