What Happens After A Deposition In A Personal Injury Case?
Personal Injury - January 14, 2021
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover compensation. Part of the lawsuit process will likely be depositions.
Depositions are an important part of the “discovery phase” during a personal injury lawsuit. This is the opportunity for both sides to pose questions to possible witnesses who may have information pertinent to the case. Even more importantly, depositions are given under oath, meaning statements must be truthful, much like statements given during the actual personal injury trial process.
When does the deposition take place?
Depositions are scheduled to occur at specific times, places, and dates agreed upon by every party involved. While this process may seem intimidating to those who have to give it a position, any person who is asked to give one will know in advance that they have to do so.
A deposition will take place after a civil personal injury lawsuit has been filed, but before the trial occurs. Sometimes, the period between when a case is filed and when the trial occurs could be a year or more. If you receive notice that you are being asked to sit for a deposition, you will be required to participate. As mentioned above, depositions are given under oath, which means that you are required to give answers that you believe are truthful. Anything said during a deposition will be recorded and will likely be used in court.
Before a deposition
Before the deposition takes place, it is crucial that the person giving the deposition work with an attorney to prepare for the process. In general, the person asked to sit for a deposition already knows pertinent facts related to the case (at least the pertinent facts related to the role they had in the case). However, even if the person who is giving the deposition knows the facts, being asked questions by an attorney in a high-pressure setting is not easy. Often, an attorney will help the person who is giving the deposition prepare by staging a “mock deposition” to mimic how a real one will proceed.
It is important for any person sitting for a deposition to come dressed as if they are testifying in court. The other party’s attorneys will be attempting to size you up as a witness, basically determining how you will hold up in court should a trial occur. You want to give the best impression possible.
During the deposition
The process of the deposition seems fairly simple. It is a series of questions asked by the opposing side’s attorneys that you have to answer. However, the potential outcomes of deposition are anything but “simple” or inconsequential. That is why it is crucial that any person sitting for a deposition have their own attorney by their side. An attorney will be able to help the person receiving questions. For example, the opposing side’s attorney may purposely ask questions to get you mad or flustered, but it is important that you avoid any signs of frustration. An attorney can object to questions posed by opposing counsel.
Because everything said in a deposition is under oath, it is best to answer only the questions that are asked and not give any information that is not directly asked. The person answering questions in a deposition should never attempt to guess or assume while answering questions that they may not have answers for. In these situations, it is okay to say you do not know or that you do not remember. Regardless of how the other attorney approaches you and the questions, it is crucial that the person giving the deposition not become angry or defensive.
Attorneys in depositions are allowed to ask witnesses a variety of questions pertaining to the matter at hand. However, they will also be able to ask questions that may not necessarily be directly related to the personal injury lawsuit.
After the deposition
After the deposition is completed, the court reporter (who will be present in the room) will prepare a written transcript, and attorneys for both sides will receive the transcript for review. Your attorney will evaluate the deposition and tell you their assessment of the process. The written transcript of deposition can be used in the personal injury trial, should the case proceed that far. Depositions are not considered part of the public record when they are initially taken, but if they are filed with the court during the trial process, they will become public record. Many individuals asked to sit for depositions end up testifying at trial.