Your lawyer said you need to give a deposition. Now what? Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Let’s start with going over what a deposition actually is.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition for a personal injury claim is when the other party’s attorney questions you about how you were injured. This is part of what is known as the discovery process, pre-trial, when the attorneys of each side are gathering evidence.
Depositions are important because they are your first real “on-the-record” testimony of what occurred. This is very important because you will not be able to change your testimony later.
Who Will Be at My Deposition?
Your deposition will usually only include you, your attorney, the attorney for the other party, and a court stenographer, who will record your answers. There may be more people (such as the insurance adjuster or legal assistants), or fewer (it may be only you and the stenographer). However, no judge or jury is present during the deposition.
Do I Need to Go to the Courthouse for My Deposition?
No, a deposition typically takes place in an attorney’s office or another location like a hotel conference room, not the courthouse.
What Will Happen During My Deposition?
During your deposition, you will be required to answer all questions asked of you truthfully, under oath. However, don’t expect the experience to be like witness interrogations on legal dramas on TV. Depositions usually won’t be full of pointed accusations. You can typically expect the questioning attorney to be polite, professional, or even friendly.
You will probably be asked:
- General information about yourself, such as your name, contact information, occupation, and so on.
- Your account of how the accident occurred, in as much detail as possible.
- About your health, both before and since the accident.
- About how your injury has impacted your day-to-day life.
However, keep in mind, you do not need to volunteer additional information. Only answer the questions asked. And if you don’t know the answer, truthfully say you do not know. Do not speculate or offer opinions. Take your time to answer and don’t feel the need to fill any silences.
Your answers will be transcribed, and possibly recorded on video or tape as well.
Your attorney can’t answer for you in your deposition, but because depositions are scheduled in advance, you can work with your attorney ahead of time to go over what questions might be asked and how you should reply. Your attorney can also object to a question if they believe it is out of line or would require you to disclose attorney-client privileged communications.
At the end of your deposition, you will be given a copy of the transcript of the conversation. Look it over to make sure all your answers were transcribed correctly.
A typical personal injury deposition will probably take about two hours, but it is highly dependent on the individual case. If the case is very complex, if the person testifying is being uncooperative, or if the opposing legal team is being difficult, the person being deposed may be asked to come back for a second or even third day. If you need a break at any time, don’t hesitate to ask for it.
If I Want to Settle Out of Court, Do I Still Need to Go to the Deposition?
Yes and no. Not all cases require a deposition. You may not be asked to testify at one at all. But if you are asked to testify at a deposition, you are required to attend.
If you refuse to attend the deposition, you may have to accept that your case may not move forward. And since this isn’t a criminal case, you can’t “plead the fifth” and refuse to answer questions.
However, it’s also possible to have a deposition and not go to trial. If your testimony makes it clear and obvious that the other party was at fault, the other party may agree to settle without going to court.
We Help Accident Victims Get Settlements After Injuries
Our experienced personal injury attorneys know all the ins-and-outs of personal injury law, and we’re here to help you through it, from filing the case to the deposition to testifying in court, if it comes to that. You need a lawyer that doesn’t just sit on the sidelines, but is actively available to answer your questions and provide support whenever and however you need it.
Not all firms can do that, or want to, but we do. Contact our firm today for a free consultation and learn what makes the Law Offices of Gary Bruce the firm that injured Georgians and Alabamans trust.