The Dreaded Deposition - A Survival Guide
Once your lawyer files a lawsuit in your personal injury claim, it is likely that the defendant/responsible party will want to take your deposition. Most people have never been deposed and know very little about this mysterious and scary process.
Put simply, a deposition is a question and answer session that is conducted under oath in the presence of a court reporter. There are usually four people at a deposition:
(1) you, the deponent;
(2) your attorney;
(3) the court reporter; and
(4) the questioning attorney.
It is your job to listen closely to the questions being asked and answer them accurately. Your attorney will be right next to you – either physically or virtually – throughout the deposition. It is their job to listen closely to the questions to ensure that they are proper and that you are not being mistreated. It is the court reporter’s job to administer the oath and then transcribe every word that is spoken. It is the questioning attorney’s job to ask the questions – oftentimes, hundreds of questions.
The deposition starts with the court reporter administering the oath and you, the deponent, raising your right hand and agreeing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The questioning attorney – generally an attorney for the defendant – then provides “admonitions.” These are basic ground rules for the deposition. After going through the admonitions and getting you to agree, the questioning attorney will then ask you hundreds of questions. In personal injury depositions, these questions will cover a wide range of topics including:
(1) your biography including educational background and employment history;
(2) your recollection of the day of the incident;
(3) the events leading up to the crash or incident;
(4) the crash/incident sequence including what happened to your body;
(5) your injuries;
(6) your medical treatment; and
(7) the impact your injuries have had on your life.
Most of our clients walk out of a deposition feeling relieved. They were expecting it to be a KGB-style interrogation, but it turned out to be pretty boring. Here’s the thing… the questions are about you and your life, so you pretty much know all the answers. In most personal injury claims, there isn’t much to lie about (e.g. You were driving along when you were hit from behind and now you have terrible neck pain). Just take the questioning attorney through everything and tell your story.
This is not legal advice. You should always contact a lawyer to discuss your specific case. Consultations are free.