If you are involved in a personal injury case, there is a possibility you will be asked to take part in a deposition. The thought of going through a deposition for the first time may seem overwhelming. However, a deposition is a completely normal part of many personal injury cases. To ease your anxiety about going through a deposition, our team at Guldjian has answered the most common questions that our clients have about depositions:
What is a deposition?
A deposition is a discovery tool used by attorneys to gain information on a case. During a deposition, you will meet with the opposing side’s attorney and provide answers to posed questions while under oath. Although depositions do not usually take place in a courtroom, it is important to note you are still under oath while answering the attorney’s questions. For this reason, it is imperative that your answers be completely truthful.
What can I expect at a deposition?
Firstly, it is important to identify who will be present at the deposition. These people include: the opposing side’s attorney, your attorney, and a court reporter to record everything that is said. In some cases, depositions might be videotaped, but such occasions are not common.
The first thing that will happen during a deposition is the court reporter swearing you in. If you do not want to swear to God, let your attorney or the court reporter know so they can ask you to “affirm” instead. Next, the opposing side’s attorney will usually ask you to follow the following rules: 1) don’t talk over the questions because the court reporter can’t get down two people talking at once, 2) if you don’t understand the question please ask for clarification, and 3) if you need a break, ask for one. Then the questions and answers session will 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. Don’t be surprised if that happens.
The opposing side’s attorney will generally ask questions that address:
- General background information such as name, address, date of birth, family, education, work history, etc.
- Information about your physical condition before the injury occurred.
- Information about the accident – how did it happen? When 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.
- Information about the impact of the injuries on your life.
Why is a deposition important?
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. By conducting a deposition, your answers made under oath are placed on the record. With this information, the attorney can start crafting his questions for the trial, before the trial even begins.
During the deposition, there will be a lot of questions coming your way and it could easily get overwhelming. Just be aware that you have every right to answer, “I don’t remember” to any question posed to you. If you really don’t know or don’t remember, that’s quite alright. Don’t try to fill in the answer with what you guess is the right answer. This could end up hurting your case, and once you give an answer in a deposition, you can’t change it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a break if you need one during a deposition. Lastly, there is no reason the thought of a deposition should cause you crippling anxiety. We here at Guldjian are here to help you every step of the process and answer all of your questions and concerns.
If you or a loved one have any questions on depositions, call our experienced California personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation. We accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there will be no cost to you, unless we recover. Let us help you and your loved ones get through this difficult time. Our personal injury attorneys at Guldjian will aggressively fight for you until justice is served, whether it is through a settlement or a trial. Our dedicated and caring team of injury attorneys will be available to you 24/7. Call us at 888.546.5315 for a free consultation.