Suffering an injury can be traumatic. Having to relive the events on multiple occasions has the ability to compound the physical scars with added stress and anxiety. Often before a personal injury case goes to trial the interested parties take part in depositions. By reviewing the following information, you can better prepare for the process of a personal injury deposition. This also helps ease the tension created as a result of being in unfamiliar legal territory.
What is a Deposition?
In its most simple terms, a deposition is a form of pre-trial activity used for gathering information. The typical format is a question and answer session with the opposing side’s attorney. Depositions serve the role of obtaining relevant information to cases. They also provide an opportunity for involved parties to examine available documents for the case. In some instances, the court will video-record a personal injury deposition.
Am I Required to Attend a Deposition?
If the court orders your deposition, then yes, you must participate. The importance of a personal injury deposition relates to the step in the legal process in which both parties tell their side of the story. This helps in determining fault for the events.
Participating in a deposition does not have to be a negative experience. Giving your testimony and side of the story will help set the record straight.
How Should I Approach a Personal Injury Deposition?
You should approach a personal injury deposition as if you were testifying in a courtroom. You will most likely be sworn in under oath and face questioning from the opposing counsel. The manner in which you handle a deposition indicates to both parties how you will perform when testifying on the stand. A legal aid will record your statements and enter them into the record for later use at the trial.
An important item to keep in mind while answering deposition questions is to answer each question with care. Your answers aid in determining the validity of a claim or calculating fault, so being truthful is paramount. You may also receive a request to testify once the case goes to trial. Any irregularities in your statements could pose further legal complications.
If the deposition is taking a long time, request to take a break. People tend to make avoidable mistakes when they become fatigued. This tends to happen when the “questioner” poses the same questions in multiple fashions. Attorneys will compare your answers and point out any irregularities. By taking periodic breaks and composing yourself, you can avoid making contradictory claims.
While humor can be an effective tool used to diffuse a tense situation, joking around has the possibility of losing context outside of the deposition. Something that was funny in a small room in the course of a 4-hour deposition may not have the same effect as that same statement pulled and read aloud in a courtroom.
What Are Some of the Questions Asked in a Personal Injury Deposition?
When related to personal injury cases, a deposition will consist of questions related to the background of the witness. This includes current address, occupation history, any previous legal claims, criminal history, and medical history.
Once the counsel establishes the witness’s background, they will ask for details surrounding the events leading to and following the injury. The attorney may ask you to walk them through the incident step-by-step. You will describe any injuries you’ve sustained, along with the limitations you’ve experienced, as a result of those injuries.
Do I Have to Answer Every Question in a Personal Injury Deposition?
It is a good practice to answer questions asked truthfully and from a place of certainty. You should not guess or offer speculation related to the answer of a question. If you truly do not know the answer to a question, it is better to state “I don’t remember” or “I can’t recall” than to formulate your own hypothesis. Lying may seem like an easy way to avoid a difficult question or uncomfortable truth, but it almost always comes back to cause issues as proceedings continue.
Giving only the information requested is the best strategy. Keeping your answers fact-based and avoiding any opinions can keep you from contradicting yourself or weakening your case. Avoid educated guesses or speculation.
There are instances in which you can object to a question asked, but ultimately a judge can overrule the objection and require an answer.
It is important to keep in mind that taking a breath and allowing yourself time to gather your thoughts is a helpful strategy for answering questions. If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification in order to understand what is being asked. If an attorney offers a summary of events that isn’t entirely correct, you can state that their account isn’t consistent with your testimony. You should then request an opportunity to correct the record and give an accurate answer.
Do I Have to Say “Yes” or “No” to the questions in a Personal Injury Deposition?
You have the right to answer questions that are accurate in nature. You also have the right to get clarification or correction for any questions that are unclear or incorrect. If you are unsure of an answer, you may state that you aren’t sure to the best of your knowledge or memory. It may not help your case if you aren’t able to answer questions, but lying will actively hurt your chances at a favorable outcome.
What Should I Wear to a Personal Injury Deposition?
When giving a personal injury deposition, professionalism is key. While the deposition isn’t typically held in a courtroom setting, we advise traditional business attire. We don’t recommend casual clothing. You should also bear in mind that depositions can often take an extended period of time. Make considerations for comfort, while allowing for a professional appearance.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Deposition?
In the event that you find yourself asked to give a deposition, utilizing the help of an experienced attorney can help put yourself in the best possible position. Personal injury attorneys can guide you and provide the practice necessary to be comfortable with the situation and prepare you for the various tactics that an opposing counsel will employ.
If you choose to venture out into the legal waters on your own, you may find yourself over your head and in need of trained, professional assistance. In that case, you would have been better off in the long run having representation from the beginning.
An important thing to consider when facing the prospect of a deposition is: “Do I want to take on the opposing side’s legal team on my own?” If the answer to that question is “No,” then you absolutely want to consider professional representation.
The team at Manassas Law Firm has years of experience in the personal injury claims process. Our dedicated team of experienced attorneys work to ease the burden associated with litigation. We work to get the results that our clients deserve.
Contact Manassas Law Today for Your Legal Questions and Concerns
Work with the firm that has over 65 years of experience serving Virginians. Contact our offices today to arrange a confidential consultation or case evaluation and begin the process of protecting your rights while getting the compensation you deserve. Reach us at our office in downtown Manassas at (703) 361-8246 or leave us a message on our website to begin your no-fee evaluation.