If you’ve filed a lawsuit after an accident, you may be required to provide a deposition to the opposing party. It’s important to know what to expect during a deposition and be adequately prepared. How you act and what you say during your deposition could have a big impact on the outcome of your case.
What Is a Deposition?
There are many phases to any type of lawsuit, including personal injury cases. One of these is the discovery phase. Discovery is the formal exchange of information between the two parties in a lawsuit. It allows both sides to know what witnesses and evidence will be presented at trial. This information will be used by your attorney in preparation for a trial, at trial, or as part of any settlement negotiations.
Depositions are part of the discovery process. A deposition is an out-of-court testimony, given under oath, by any person involved in a case. They usually take place in an attorney’s office, with your attorney, the other side’s attorney, and a court reporter present. Many depositions are videotaped. Anything you say during your deposition can be used as evidence in court.
Your deposition will be taken after a lawsuit is filed but before the court date. The defense doesn’t have to subpoena your or obtain a court order, they only need to send you a notice of deposition. Once you’ve received their notice, you’ll be required to participate in the deposition. Failing to do so could prevent your case from moving forward.
What Happens During the Deposition?
The deposition is similar to a court trial, except that you don’t appear in front of a judge or jury. The person giving the deposition (in this case, you) is known as the deponent. Once you’ve been sworn in, the attorney will ask you a series of questions and your responses will be recorded.
A deposition usually begins with the opposing attorney asking for some general background information, such as your name, your age, where you live, your occupation, etc. If you are giving a deposition in a Jones Act lawsuit or other maritime injury claim, you may also expect to be asked about the vessel you were serving on, what type of vessel it was, your position on the crew, and similar relevant questions.
Next, the questions will get a little more specific. If you have filed a personal injury claim, the attorney will inquire about your health before the accident and any prior medical conditions you may have.
You’ll be asked to describe the details of your accident. For instance, if you were injured in a car or truck accident, you’ll probably be asked:
- How the accident occurred.
- What you were doing when the accident happened.
- How fast you were going at the time of the accident.
- Weather and road conditions at the time of the accident.
- Where you’d been prior to the accident.
- Where you were headed at the time of the accident.
- Your mental state at the time of the accident.
- The names of any witnesses.
Answer the questions as truthfully as possible. If you don’t remember, or don’t remember the accident clearly, say so.
After this, the other side’s attorney will ask you about your injuries. They’ll ask you :
- How were you injured in the accident?
- What is the extent of your injuries?
- How soon were you treated after the accident?
- Where were you treated?
- Who treated you?
- Were you admitted to the hospital?
- How long did you stay in the hospital?
- If your injuries require ongoing medical treatment?
- What is your doctor’s long-term prognosis of your condition?
Finally, you’ll be asked how your accident injuries have physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially affected your life. This will give you the opportunity to describe how your life has changed since the accident, including any limitations you’ve experienced, changes in income, economic losses or damages, as well as any pain and suffering.
Preparing For Your Deposition
It’s important to be prepared when you deliver your deposition. Anything you say under oath at the deposition can be used against you at the trial. To protect your rights during a deposition it’s vital that you not:
- Provide false or exaggerated testimony.
- Guess or speculate when answering a question.
- Argue, act aggressively, or use profanity toward the opposing side.
- Volunteer information.
- Provide privileged attorney/client information.
- Paraphrase a conversation.
- Make light of the situation.
Your attorney should tell you what to expect in your deposition and how to avoid any mistakes that could affect the outcome of your claim.
Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso Is Dedicated To Providing You With The Highest Quality Legal Representation
The New Orleans personal injury attorneys at Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso are dedicated to providing our clients with the highest quality legal representation. We’ve been protecting the rights of victims injured in a wide range of accidents, including aviation, railroad, maritime, auto, big truck, industrial, defective products, and environmental accidents, since 1977. Our attorneys have recovered over a billion dollars in settlements for our clients.
If you were injured in an accident, don’t wait until it’s too late to get experienced legal help. Contact Lambert Zainey Smith & Soso through our website or call us at (800) 521-1750 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case with a leading New Orleans personal injury attorney today.