What Happens During a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case?
A deposition in a personal injury case is nothing to be afraid of. It is one of the only opportunities you have to give your side of the story as the injured party or plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. With assistance from a personal injury lawyer, you can prepare for a deposition and even use it to strengthen your claim. Start by learning what to expect during a typical deposition in Kansas City, Missouri.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is part of the discovery phase of a personal injury lawsuit. Legal discovery is a chance for both sides of a dispute to learn what the other side knows. A deposition is an interview where the attorney who represents one side asks the other side questions under oath. The answers to these questions will be recorded and can be used as evidence during the personal injury trial. Other parts of the discovery phase are interrogatories (written questionnaires) and requests for evidence or documentation.
Where Does a Deposition Take Place?
You do not have to go to court to give a deposition. A deposition takes place during pretrial processes, not during the actual injury trial. Most depositions are conducted in an attorney’s office. You will be given a notice of deposition if you must attend this part of the discovery phase. If you receive a notice of deposition, attending is not optional. Your participation is mandatory.
Who Is Present at a Deposition?
You have the right to bring a personal injury attorney with you to a deposition. Doing so is often wise, as your attorney can give you advice as to what to say and what not to say during your interview. When you and your attorney arrive at the deposition, you will typically find the other party’s attorney and a court reporter in the room. The court reporter is there to transcribe what is said during the deposition.
Although movies make depositions out to be intimidating processes where the attorney is yelling at the participant, this is generally not the case. Most deposing attorneys are polite and professional, as they want you to open up. It is important, however, to remember that the opposing counsel is not on your side.
What Types of Questions Are Asked?
Before the interview portion of the deposition begins, you will be sworn in. This means that you will swear to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. Then, the attorney for the other side of the case will ask you a series of questions. Your answers will be recorded by the court reporter in a deposition transcript. Your lawyer cannot give you answers during a deposition, but he or she can prepare you for the types of questions that will be asked.
Deposition questions often fit into the following categories:
Prior and current physical condition
Description of your injuries
Current state of life
In essence, the attorney will want to hear your side of the story to learn more about the case as a whole. The purpose of these questions is to find out what happened in your own words. Conduct yourself professionally and be polite during your deposition. Be honest in your answers and as specific as possible. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. Take your time and request as many breaks as you need during a deposition.
How Can a Lawyer Help With a Deposition?
If the idea of a deposition still intimidates you, work closely with a personal injury attorney for assistance with this part of the legal process. An attorney can go over all of the questions that may be asked of you during a deposition, as well as help you prepare good answers. If you bring an attorney with you to a deposition, he or she can speak up if the opposing counsel is breaking the rules or violating your rights. The right attorney can give you sound advice and greater peace of mind about going into a personal injury case deposition.