Depositions are a crucial discovery tool in personal injury lawsuits. These question-and-answer sessions allow each party to learn more about the other side’s position and gain valuable information. Both sides have the right to conduct depositions and take the testimony of their opponents or witnesses in the case. Critically, if you were ordered to do so by the court or served with a subpoena, you must attend a deposition in a personal injury case.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is testimony that is taken under oath out of court. Depositions typically occur as part of the discovery process after a lawsuit has been commenced, but before trial. A deposition is usually the first opportunity for a party in the case to give their side of the story. Third party witnesses may also be deposed to provide information about specific facts in the case.
The person who is being deposed appears at a specific time and place to give their testimony — which is recorded by a court reporter. The lawyer conducting the deposition will ask questions concerning the circumstances surrounding the accident or the victim’s injuries. This testimony may be used to impeach a witness on the stand at trial and provide substantive evidence to support a claim.
What Happens at a Deposition?
To schedule a deposition, the party from whom the testimony is sought must be provided with reasonable notice of the date, time, and location. A deposition usually takes place at the office of the court reporter or attorney. The attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant are both present, as well as the court reporter. All parties in the case may also attend.
Although depositions are much less formal than cross-examination of a witness at trial, they generally follow the same questioning format. Specifically, the attorney asks the opposing side questions to seek information — objections may be made to the question on certain grounds, including form, relevancy, or privilege. Otherwise, a deponent is required to answer.
What Questions Are Asked at a Deposition?
The specific questions asked at a deposition will depend on the type of accident case. However, in all personal injury cases, the questions asked by the plaintiff’s counsel will revolve around proving negligence. Common questions a plaintiff will be asked at a personal injury deposition cover topics such as:
- Personal background information
- How the accident happened
- The specific injuries suffered
- How the injuries affected their daily life
- How the injuries impacted their ability to work
- Medical treatment rendered
Depositions are rarely adversarial like those you may have seen on television or in the movies. In fact, the opposing attorney will usually be friendly in an attempt to get the deponent to reveal as much information as possible. This is why it’s crucial for a plaintiff to only answer the question as it is asked and ensure they are well-prepared for the deposition in advance. Importantly, the plaintiff’s deposition is a pivotal turning point in their case and it’s imperative to have the representation of a skilled personal injury attorney.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured by the negligence of another, it’s crucial to have an experienced personal injury attorney who can walk you through every step of the legal process — and fight for your right to maximum compensation. The personal injury attorneys at The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP are dedicated to helping accident victims recover the maximum amount of compensation to which they’re entitled for their injuries. Due to our dedication, knowledge, and experience, we regularly secure substantial verdicts and settlements for our clients.
The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP is a personal injury law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of accident victims to ensure they get the monetary recovery they deserve for their injuries. Located in Manhattan, our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.