Filing a lawsuit can be a huge part of the personal injury legal process. When a lawsuit is filed, each party collects information and evidence from each other, a procedure known as the discovery. One part of discovery is the deposition process, where attorneys can ask questions from the people in the lawsuit and witnesses who are not parties.
What is the purpose of a deposition?
Depositions are question-and-answer sessions in which a witness provides information about the case to the attorney, and is a part of this discovery process. Although many people expect a deposition in court, depositions actually occur outside the courtroom, usually at an office with a conference room.
Deposition Definition: the name that is given to the testimony of a witness that is spoken and taken out of court but with the instruction of the court.
There are two main purposes of a deposition. First, attorneys on both sides want to gather information from the deposition testimony. Attorneys ask these questions to ensure you can communicate an accurate account of the accident, which in turn proves that you are and can be a trusted witness in your own case. Your attorney asks the same questions of the opposing parties to not only gain a complete version of the incident, but to cement the facts early on and avoid problems later on in the process.
Second, attorneys also want to preserve that testimony so it is available later at trial. This can be good and bad depending on your involvement with the case, as a skilled attorney will be able to compare every work a witness said in a deposition with their testimony at trial to make sure it is consistent. Attorneys will also use this as a chance to see how each witness will perform in front of a jury during trial.
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Are you required to give a deposition?
RESOURCE: Testifying as a Spouse
Usually, yes. If you are the party who has filed suit or been sued, by participating in the lawsuit you are required to be deposed if the other side requests it. Sometimes, even if you aren’t a party to the litigation but are a witness because you observed the accident or a person’s injuries, you may be subpoenaed to attend a deposition. Although you can try to fight the subpoena, you will need to go through the court to explain why you don’t believe you should be deposed.
What should I expect in a deposition?
Even though it may not feel as formal as a trial, witnesses are under oath during a deposition, which means each witness has sworn to tell the truth to the best of his or her ability. Depositions are very important in personal injury cases, so they can be intimidating. Knowing what to expect and preparing for the deposition will help you and your attorney in the long run. A good attorney will explain what to expect and help you prepare for this important testimony.
When deposing a witness in a car accident case, attorneys will generally focus on a person’s background, details of the accident, as well as the injuries and treatment themselves. Remember this: it’s ok to say you don’t know the answer or to ask for a break. The most important thing is to remain calm, listen and speak carefully, and not provide any more information than the question asks. Your attorney will take care of objecting if necessary. Here’s what to expect:
RESOURCE: Deposition Questions Printout
- Name, address, and date of birth
- A list of residences over the last 10 years
- Are you married/divorced/separated?
- Do you have any children and what are their ages?
- Is there any extended family living with you?
- Where and which high school did you attend?
- Where and which college did you attend and what did you study?
- Any special vocational or technical education?
- Where was your place of employment at the time of the accident?
- What were your duties?
- What was your income?
- Did your job require any special training?
- Did your job require physical labor?
- Where did you work before your most recent job?
- Time and date of the accident
- Where were you traveling to and from just before the accident?
- Did you have any passengers?
Location of the accident:
- Physical address
- Description of the road or road quality
- Description of any road signage in the area (stop signs, traffic lights, street or highway signs, etc.)
Describe the environment in the car prior to the accident:
- Describe any pertinent weather affecting the accident
- What were you doing in the vehicle prior to the accident?
- Were you using your phone?
- Had you been drinking?
- Had you used any drugs or taken any medication?
- Were there children in the car?
- Was the radio on?
Describe the accident itself:
- What did the other vehicle do?
- What did you do?
- Did you see them coming?
- What was the traffic like?
- Could you avoid the accident? If not, why?
- How is the accident the other driver’s fault or could it be yours?
- Where did the cars collide?
- Where on your car was the point of impact?
- Where did your respective cars end up after impact?
Describe any police interaction post-accident:
- What information did you give the police?
- Was a police report filed?
- Did you speak to the other driver, and if so, what did you say?
INJURY AND TREATMENT INFORMATION
Describe your injuries:
- What were they?
- Had you experienced similar injuries before the accident?
Describe the treatment you received:
- Where did you go for treatment?
- What kind of treatment did you receive?
- What doctors have you seen since the accident?
- What was the diagnosis?
- Are you still being treated or have you fully recovered?
- How do your injuries affect your daily life? Are there things you can’t do anymore?
Describe your work situation post-accident:
- Can you perform the same job as before the accident?
- Can you earn as much money as before the accident?
Have you or someone you love been injured in an accident?
If you were injured in an accident, contact us for a free case evaluation. We will work with you on a contingency-fee basis to gather this evidence and prove your case. You may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress and further damages. Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a claim. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are free. We have office locations throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call us at 1-800-537-8185 today.