A deposition is a witness’s sworn testimony outside of court, and a legal tool used to discover and establish facts relevant to a personal injury case.
Essentially it is an opportunity for the attorneys from both sides to learn what the plaintiff (victim) and defendant (at-fault party) know about the case, the extent of the injuries, the damages being claimed, and to have questions about their backgrounds answered. By getting the complete story at depositions from both, you and the at-fault party, the attorneys involved will be able to develop a strategy for the remainder of the case.
What Types of Questions are Asked at a Deposition?
A deposition can be the key to many personal injury cases, so it is vital to be prepared. The information obtained may not only impact how much compensation a victim receives, but can also decide the case’s outcome. You can expect to answer questions regarding the following:
- What happened to you?
- Was anyone with you when the injury occurred?
- Were there witnesses?
- Did you file an insurance claim?
- Did you call the police?
- Did you see a doctor?
- Did you receive treatment?
- How have you been feeling since your original treatment?
- Has the injury affected your life in any specific way?
- What injuries have you had in your life?
- What illnesses have you had?
- Have you ever been involved in litigation before?
- Do you have a criminal record?
- What do you do for work?
Questions must be answered honestly, as you will be under oath during a deposition. If you lie, there is a risk of being charged with the crime of perjury. Lying can also destroy your credibility as a witness. When you are asked a question, it’s best to give a simple and precise answer, without providing any additional information.
Do I Have to Attend a Deposition?
Depositions can be stressful, but they are an important part of the legal process. If you have been subpoenaed to a deposition, there aren’t too many options for avoiding it. If you just don’t show up, you potentially subject yourself to contempt of court or other sanctions. On top of that, you would still be forced into deposition.
Who is Present at a Deposition?
At a deposition, you can expect to see the attorneys representing the involved parties, a court reporter, and the witness. If you are being deposed as the plaintiff in a case, the assigned insurance adjuster will sometimes attend as well. The deposition may be done at your attorney’s office, opposing counsel’s office, or another agreed upon location.
When is a Deposition Taken?
If the parties to a personal injury claim cannot reach a fair settlement, the plaintiff (victim) has the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant (at-fault party). A summons must be served to the defendant, and they have a chance to file an answer. Once that occurs, signaling they intend to defend the case, the discovery phase of litigation begins. Discovery gives each party the chance to obtain documents from each other, send written questions (interrogatories), get documents from third parties, hire experts to testify, and depose witnesses under oath. Reasonable notice must be given to all parties when either side wants to schedule a deposition.
We Can Help
As experienced litigators, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Milano Legal Group are well-versed in the dos and don’ts of depositions. If you are subpoenaed to give testimony for a personal injury case, call (713) 489-4270 and schedule a free consultation.