What Is A Deposition In A Personal Injury Case?

What Is A Deposition In A Personal Injury Case?

There are many stages to be completed after a personal injury lawsuit is filed, but arguably one of the most nerve-racking steps is the deposition. The idea of being interrogated by an attorney understandably gives injury victims a bit of anxiety, but your attorney will be by your side through the entire process.

In fact, an effective and well-prepared deposition is crucial in determining the success of your case. So, what exactly is a deposition in a personal injury case and what can you expect during the process?

What Is A Deposition?

A deposition is a formal process where the other party’s legal team can question you, under oath, in an attempt to gather information relevant to your case. Depositions take place during the discovery stage of a personal injury lawsuit. They take place outside of the courtroom, often in an attorney’s or court reporter’s office. Your attorney, opposing counsel, and a court reporter will be present while depositions are made. The other party may elect to personally attend your deposition or leave it to his or her attorney alone.

If you are deposed, you will be required to provide your sworn testimony under oath — meaning you are required to answer all of the questions honestly, to the best of your ability. Notably, your deposition testimony can be used at trial to impeach you if you give conflicting testimony during your trial. Since depositions are an important part of the pre-trial discovery process, it is mandatory that you attend if you’ve received a notice of deposition.

What Happens During The Deposition?

If you have filed a lawsuit against another for your injuries, your attorney and opposing counsel will work to schedule a deposition at a time that works best for all parties who are required to provide testimony under oath.

It’s understandable to be nervous for an upcoming deposition, even if you know that you are going to provide truthful answers to the best of your ability. Opposing counsel typically will ask you a series of questions about yourself and the accident. Your attorney will be present to ensure that opposing counsel’s line of questioning remains relevant to your case and is otherwise proper.

You will not be the only person providing testimony during a deposition. Your attorney will also have the opportunity to conduct a deposition to question the defendant(s) about their recollection of the accident. If there are any other key witnesses to your accident, they may also be subpoenaed by either your attorney or opposing counsel and required to give testimony, responding to questions from both parties. Depending on how many parties are involved in your case, a deposition can take as long as several hours to complete. In New York State, depositions are limited to seven hours maximum (unless otherwise agreed to by the parties or ordered by a court), although many will conclude in much less time.

What Can I Expect To Be Asked In A Deposition?

Depositions will typically include some simple, identifying questions from opposing counsel. They may ask questions like:

  • What is your name?
  • What does your employment history look like?
  • Do you have a criminal history?
  • Is this your first time filing a lawsuit, or more specifically, a personal injury lawsuit?
  • What does your medical history look like?

It is important to understand that depositions provide attorneys with an opportunity to make a formal record of your testimony. Thus, opposing counsel may ask you questions they know the answer to, but want on record.

You should also anticipate receiving questions specific to the accident and injuries you’ve sustained. You may be asked:

  • Have you sought the advice of a medical professional for your injuries?
  • Did the injuries you’ve sustained result in any semi-permanent or permanent disabilities?
  • If so, what treatments have you received for injuries related to the accident?
  • Have the injuries or resulting disabilities affected your ability to work?
  • How have the injuries or resulting disabilities affected your day-to-day life?

Of course, each accident is unique, and opposing counsel likely will ask questions specific to your set of circumstances. It is your obligation to answer all of these questions as truthfully as possible. Contradictions in answers you provide at your deposition and testimony you provide at trial could discredit you in the eyes of the court.

What Happens After The Deposition?

After all of the “deponents” (the people who have appeared for their deposition under oath) have given their testimonies, the court reporter will prepare an official transcript that will be available to your attorney and the opposing counsel. Once your attorney reviews the transcript, they may reassess the strength of your case, and any potential motions to be made to the Court, based on how the deposition went. From there, the transcripts will be submitted to the court so they can be utilized and referred to throughout the lawsuit.

After the deposition, the attorney on either side may have a different perspective on your case or claims. As a result, settlement negotiations may resume, or either party may adjust their strategy in response to the sworn testimony provided. One common occurrence after depositions is for either or both parties to file a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the collective evidence, including the deposition testimony, conclusively settles certain issues which do not warrant a trial. If your case is not settled or resolved by the Court on a party’s motion, it will continue toward trial.

How Do I Know My Deposition Went Well?

How well your deposition goes greatly depends on your ability to provide the opposing counsel with thorough, honest, and accurate information that supports your claims. Your attorney can help you assess whether your deposition was helpful to your case. He or she will consider all angles of the case and how your testimony supports or negates them.

It is impossible to predict all questions and events that will take place at your deposition. But preparedness will certainly help your deposition go smoothly.

Did You Know The Facts Of Your Accident?

It is common for injury victims to feel overwhelmed and anxious when being questioned under oath, so it can be easy for details to slip your mind. Your attorney will take the time to go over all of the facts surrounding your accident before the deposition to help put your mind at ease. Before the deposition, you should feel comfortable communicating about your accident and injuries. The below are general suggestions for topics commonly asked about during depositions; your attorney will work with you to plan and prepare for your testimony, and to anticipate likely questions based on the specific facts of your case.

  • The date and time of your accident
  • Where the accident happened
  • What the weather and conditions were like the day of your accident
  • The events leading up to your accident
  • Any relevant information that can be found on the police report to support your claim

Were You Able To Provide Accurate Information On Your Medical History?

The opposing counsel will also ask you questions relevant to your medical history, specifically related to the circumstances of your accident injuries and your resulting medical treatments. Your attorney can also review your medical history with you before the deposition, but you will want to be as familiar as possible with the following:

  • The medical records provided by your treating physicians
  • Your medical bills
  • Number of times you have seen your physician, chiropractor, surgeons, or other specialists
  • How much money you have spent on medical bills or any other out-of-pocket expenses thus far
  • How often you are treating for your injuries
  • The level of pain and discomfort your injuries have caused you
  • How your injuries or disabilities have affected your everyday life
  • Activities, hobbies, tasks, actions, etc., that you can no longer do as a result of your injuries

Were You Familiar With Your Work History?

The opposing counsel may also choose to ask questions pertaining to your work history, especially if the accident has affected your ability to complete work or will affect your ability to work in the future. You may want to prepare to answer questions about:

  • How much work you’ve missed because of your injuries
  • How your injuries have impacted your ability to do your job
  • Whether your injuries have forced you to approach your job in a different manner
  • How much money you have lost out on because of your injuries
  • How your injuries could impact your earning potential in the immediate future

Did You Tell The Truth?

Since you swore under oath to provide your recollection of events to the best of your ability, answering all questions honestly is essential. Moreover, if you answer the questions truthfully, you will have little to no difficulty providing consistent responses at trial. This will prevent opposing counsel from impeaching you at trial using your deposition testimony, which could undermine your credibility to the court or jury.

Contact A Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer

Any accident that causes injuries can drastically impact your life. In addition to physical pain, you may also be dealing with the stress of mounting medical bills, lost wages due to missed time at work, and unfair delay tactics by the insurance company. Add to that the stress of navigating legal requirements, and it is no wonder insurance companies often persuade victims to settle for less than their claims are worth.

We hope we answered your questions about what is a deposition in a personal injury case and now your are better informed. It’s also important to know that if you suffer a personal injury because of someone else’s negligence, you’ll want an experienced and trusted attorney by your side. At Cellino Law, our attorneys have decades of experience in personal injury litigation, and will take the time to walk you through every step of your case, including ensuring that you are prepared and confident when it comes to your deposition.

For a free consultation, contact us today at 800-555-5555.



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