In the majority of all personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs need to agree to a deposition. In simple terms, the defendant’s attorney will ask you a series of questions that you need to answer. However, you will not be alone during your deposition. Your personal injury lawyer will be present, and a court reporter will be recording everything that everyone says. Occasionally, a camera may be present for videotaping the deposition. It is normal to feel a bit nervous when you are asked to give a deposition, but the more you know about the process, the less anxiety you are likely to feel.
Why Are Depositions Necessary?
Both sides in a personal injury case have the right to discover what evidence and information the other side has collected. Many cases are settled before they go to court, so your deposition may be the only opportunity that the defendant’s lawyer has to question you. Often, the opposing side decides to settle based primarily on the strength of the evidence presented during the plaintiff’s deposition.
What Are Some Typical Questions Asked During a Deposition?
Every case is different, so your personal injury attorney is the best source of advice regarding the questions that you may be asked during your deposition. However, plaintiffs are typically asked about their background, their recollection of the event in which they were injured and their injuries.
Background questions are designed to shed insight on your character and your life prior to your injury. Your will usually be asked to answer questions about the following topics.
• Addresses: You will be asked to state your current address. You will probably be asked to state your previous addresses for a certain period that is usually no longer than 15 years.
• Work: You will be asked about your current occupation, whether you are self-employed, and how much you earn. You will be asked about your previous jobs and why you left them.
• Record: The opposing attorney will ask whether you have ever been arrested as well as whether you have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.
• Health: You will be questioned about any previous injuries and illnesses. You will likely be asked to provide the names of the doctors who treated you and their contact information.
• Lawsuits: The defendant’s attorney will ask whether you have been a party in previous lawsuits or legal claims. If you have, you will be asked about the types of suits or claims.
Incidents leading to an injury can include auto accidents, slip and fall accidents, premises liability, dog bites and many other types of events. Therefore, you should rely on your attorney for advice on the type of questions you might encounter about the incident. Usually, however, you will be asked to provide the details or chain of events that culminated in your injury. The defendant’s attorney may interject questions as you are describing the event, but do not let this derail your train of thought.
In this section, the questions will relate to your injuries and your medical treatment. Typical questions are listed below.
• What injuries did you suffer?
• What are the names of every physician who has treated you since the incident?
• How did you choose each physician? Were you referred, and if so, by whom?
• What is the status of the medical bills you have incurred?
• Since your injury, have you been able to practice your normal trade or occupation? Do you have any work restrictions or limitations that were not present before you were injured?
• How has your injury affected your personal life? Can you care for your home, your children and yourself? Have you been able to continue your hobbies or recreational activities?
Points to Remember
A deposition is not a chat between two old friends. At its most basic, it is an information-gathering session, so keep that in mind throughout your deposition.
• Keep your answers short. You should limit your answers to no more than a single sentence. If the opposing counsel needs clarification, he or she will ask.
• It is fine to admit that you do not understand a question or that you do not know the answer to a question. Make sure that your answers are accurate; never guess or make a supposition.
• Be careful how you answer questions framed to draw a response of yes or no. Your answers will be on the record, so try to avoid painting yourself into a corner. “To the best of my knowledge,” for example, or “I do not remember that” may be better responses.
• Think before you speak. If you need to pause a moment to formulate your response, do so.
• If your attorney advises you not to answer a question, follow his instructions. Remember that he is there to safeguard you and your case.
At Powerhouse Injury Attorneys, our legal practice is focused on personal injury law. We are experienced, compassionate and have a proven record of successfully helping our clients navigate the legal system. We offer free case consultations, so give us a call at 702-444-2222 for Las Vegas, NV, or 602-265-5555 for Phoenix, AZ. You can also contact us online.