Posted on: 12 August 2015Share
If you have filed a lawsuit in a personal injury lawsuit, and the case appears to be headed to trial, you can expect to be called to take part in a deposition. But what exactly is a deposition and what should you expect during this part of the discovery process?
The Deposition Scene
In most cases, you will attend the deposition with your lawyer. The attorney or attorneys for the defendant(s) will also be present. In addition, a court reporter may also be present to take down the proceedings, which in many cases will be transcribed later for use during the trial. The plaintiff's attorney will ordinarily have:
- Copies of your medical records.
- Accident and police reports, if applicable.
- Pictures (if available) of the accident scene
- Your answers to interrogatories.
The deposition will typically take place in one of the attorney's offices, though it might also take place at a court reporting firm or at a mutually agreed upon location.
Questions You Should Expect to be Asked
The questions during a deposition are designed to help an attorney glean information that could be helpful to their case, so expect to be asked about a variety of subjects. Many of these questions may seem intrusive and may even seem to have little to do with the case, but there is usually a reason why a lawyer is inquiring about certain information. If, however, a defendant's attorney is asking a question that is out of line, it is the job of your attorney to object. The following are some topics you may be asked about:
- Your prior medical history. The defendant's lawyer will want to know if you have had previous injuries in the area you are complaining about. For example, if you are alleging that you are suffering debilitating low back pain that was caused by the accident, the lawyer will inquire about any past injuries you may have reported to doctors about your lumbar spine. They will also have looked through your medical records to see if you had reported any prior pain in this area.
- Your lifestyle before the accident. The lawyer will be interested in discovering whether or not you, for example, played a sport or worked in a job that could have contributed to the injuries you allege were caused by the accident.
- Your activities during the hours before your accident. Don't be surprised if you are asked about your time leading up to the accident. The attorney will want to know if, for example, you had been at a party where drinking may have occurred.
- What you may have said to law enforcement or medical providers. For example, did you deny medical treatment at the scene because you weren't feeling pain at the time? If so, be prepared to explain why you felt you didn't need an ambulance at the time. Did you apologize to someone after the accident? That may have been a knee-jerk reaction, but a lawyer could try to twist it to make it sound like you were admitting fault for the accident. Again, be ready to explain why you said what you did.
On occasion, your attorney may object to a question that the defendant's attorney has posed to you. If so, wait for instructions. In some situations, your lawyer may allow you to answer, but in others, they may instruct you not to answer. Your lawyer will also object if they feel that the defendant's lawyer is badgering you with the same question repeatedly—an objection known as asked and answered—or is harassing you.
The discovery process can be a potential minefield if you don't have an experienced attorney to help you through the process and to protect you from inappropriate questioning from the defendant's attorney. That is just one reason why you should always have an attorney working on your side when seeking monetary damages for an injury claim.