02 Nov Preparing for deposition in personal injury case
By Atty. Crispin Caday Lozano
If you have a personal injury case, one of the process you will undergo is to respond to a deposition. A deposition is a question and answer session with the other side’s attorney. The other attorney will ask you questions. You will give answers. Your attorney will be there with you during the deposition. A court reporter will also be there, taking down everything that is said. The court reporter is also called a stenographer
Once you file a lawsuit in a personal injury case, the other side has a right to find out what information you have about the accident and your injuries so they can be prepared for trial, if the case doesn’t settle. They are entitled to discover these facts, your recollections and impressions through the use of things like interrogatories (written questions), requests for production (formal requests that you send them documents) and depositions (oral questions and answers).
Q. What are the questions the attorney will ask?
The defense attorney in a personal injury case will generally ask questions of the Plaintiff that cover the following areas:
- General background information such as name, address, date of birth, who is in your family, education, work history, etc.
- Information about your physical condition before the injury occurred. For example, in a slip and fall case where you broke your left arm, the defense lawyer is going to want to know if you are left handed or right handed, and he or she will want to know if you had any problems using that arm before the accident.
- Information about the accident – how did it happen? Who were the witnesses? Did you talk to anyone after the accident? What did they say?
- Information about your medical treatment and physical condition after the injury occurred. For example, What injuries did you sustain in the accident? Who treated you? Did you go to the hospital? Did you see your family doctor? What did the orthopedic doctor do? How long did you have to stay home from work after your surgery?
- Information about the impact of the injuries on your life. What are you no longer able to do? What are you able to do but only with difficulty?
Q. How is a deposition conducted?
The first thing that happens is the court reporter swears you in. If you don’t want to swear to God, tell your attorney or the court reporter so they can ask you to “affirm” instead. Then the other attorney will usually ask you to follow his or her rules. Ninety percent of the time, these rules are a) don’t talk over his questions because the court reporter can’t get down two people talking at once, b) if you don’t understand the question please ask for clarification, and c) if you need a break ask for one. Then the questions and answers begin. Once the deposition starts, you cannot talk to your attorney about your testimony. Your attorney is only there to protect you from improper questions. If your attorney objects, stop talking. Let the attorney get the objection out and then he will tell you whether to answer or not. Most of the time, objections are “for the record” only, because there is no judge present. So a lot of times, attorneys object to questions and then tell their clients to go ahead and answer. This happens frequently.
Note: This is not a legal advice.