Depositions in Car Accidents
One important part of the discovery process is the deposition. If you are involved in a personal injury case, you have the right to depose the defendant. You could also depose any other relevant party. But, keep in mind that the defense can also depose you. Here is some information about depositions that can help you prepare for this situation.
What Is A Deposition
During a deposition, the opposing party’s lawyer will ask you questions. A transcript of the conversation is recorded by a court reporter. The testimony that you give can be used as evidence in the courtroom if your case reaches trial.
For a deposition, you do not have to go to a courthouse. Instead, depositions generally take place at a law firm’s office. No judge will be present, but you will be sworn in by the court reporter, as if you were testifying in a courtroom. The opposing attorney will then ask you questions to determine facts about the case.
Preparing For The Deposition
Before the deposition, you can prepare with the help of your attorney. Your attorney might review case facts and documentation with you to refresh your memory. This is one situation where you can use a record of the accident that you wrote down when it first happened. Depositions usually occur long after the day of the accident. You and your attorney can rehearse practice questions. This will help you feel comfortable talking about the accident and what happened.
On the day of your deposition, you want to make a good appearance. You should dress and act professionally. The opposing attorney will try to gage the kind of impression you make in court. You also want to speak clearly and calmly so that the court report can record everything that you say. Depositions are not casual conversations. They follow a question and answer format that gets recorded. Don’t get angry with the attorney or argue. Likewise, do not try to make small talk or crack jokes. None of these things come off well on a written transcript.
It is also in your best interest to give short answers. Don’t volunteer excess information. A simple “yes” or “no” is good enough for most questions. If you do not know the answer to a question, it is ok to say so. If you are unsure about something, say, “I’m estimating” or “I’m guessing.” If you do not remember everything that happened say something like “that’s all that I can think of right now.” This allows you to add an answer later without seeming deceptive. You should also be prepared to describe your injuries and the kind of pain you’re in (ex. dull, achy, sharp, constant etc). Think about how you would rate your pain before you go into the deposition. Also be sure not to exaggerate your injuries, simply tell the truth about how you feel.
The most important thing that you can do during a deposition is to tell the truth. You might get asked the same question several times. If your answers do not match up because you exaggerated at one point, it will not look good in front of a jury or a judge. It is also important to stay calm.
Here are a few common questions that you might be asked during a deposition.
What Is Your Personal History/Background?
The defendant’s lawyer will want to get to know you. At the beginning of the deposition, they might ask you general questions. These questions do not directly relate to the accident at issue. For example, the lawyer will ask you where you currently live and where you have lived in the past.
Tell Me About The Accident. What Happened?
The lawyer asking you questions will want to know every detail about the accident at issue. They will ask you questions such as:
- Where/when did the accident take place?
- What were you doing when the accident happened?
- How did the accident happen?
- Who was with you?
- Were there any witnesses?
What Injuries Did You Sustain? Did You Receive Medical Help?
Make sure you understand the injuries you received from the accident. Prepare before the deposition. This will ensure that you know how to explain your injuries to the lawyer clearly. Also, be able to communicate about any medical help you have received as a result of the accident. Once again, be completely honest in your answers.
What Is Your Medical History?
The defense will question you about your medical history. This will determine if the accident was the cause of the injuries you sustained.
Do You Have A Criminal Record?
Remember to always be honest when questioned about your criminal record and/or convictions. Trying to hide the truth will not only fail, but will also look worse for you in the long run.
What Is The Effect Of Your Injury (Or Injuries)?
The lawyer will likely question you about the impact your injuries have had on your everyday life. The lawyer wants to know how you have been impacted both physically and mentally. You might be asked about what you can no longer do as a result of your injuries. Are you able to work still? Do you still have to go to regular treatment? Are you able to enjoy the things that you used to?
What Is Your Employment History?
The other side’s lawyer will want to question you about your work history. This is especially true in cases where the plaintiff claims lost wages as part of the damages owed.