If your personal injury claim is the first time you’ve been involved in any sort of legal action, the thought of giving a deposition can be intimidating. However, your attorney will help you prepare for your testimony to make sure your statements do not inadvertently harm your case.
About the Deposition Process
Depositions are an important part of the discovery process in many different types of legal actions. A deposition is essentially a formal question-and-answer session with a witness. The purpose of a deposition is to allow the other side an opportunity to find out what information you have so they can be prepared for a trial.
When you give a deposition in your personal injury case, you and your attorney will meet with the defendant’s attorney. A court reporter will be present to record your answers and the meeting may be videotaped. The defendant has a right to appear at the deposition, but he or she is not required to be present. Everything you say during a deposition is under oath, so you’ll be sworn in before the questions begin.
Depositions do not take place in a courtroom. Typically, you’ll meet in your attorney’s office. The time required for a deposition varies, with some lasting just 15 minutes and others taking several hours.
Common Deposition Questions
Every deposition is a little different, but here are some examples of the types of questions you can expect to be asked:
- Where do you work? What jobs have you had in the past 10 years?
- Where do you currently live? Where did you live in the past 10 years?
- What injuries or illnesses have you had in the past 10 years?
- What past legal claims or lawsuits have you been involved in?
- Have you previously been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor criminal offenses?
- Can you please describe the details of your accident?
- Can you please describe what injuries you have suffered following the accident?
- What specific physical limitations have you been experiencing as the result of your injuries?
Preparing for Your Deposition
To help you prepare for your deposition, your attorney will go over the process with you and have you practice answering questions that might be asked. He or she may also go over your medical records or ask you to revisit the scene of the accident to clarify that you’re both on the same page.
Tips to keep in mind as you prepare include:
- Dress conservatively. To make a good impression, dress as if you were attending church or a job interview.
- Keep your answers short and to the point. It’s important to provide the truth in your deposition, but you don’t need to offer up additional unnecessary or irrelevant information. Answer the specific question being asked as briefly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” instead of guessing.
- Pause before answering. There is no judge during a deposition. If your attorney objects to a question, the objection is noted and the questioning continues. However, your attorney can instruct you not to answer a question if it pertains to attorney-client privilege. Pausing slightly before answering the question gives your attorney time to object if necessary.
- Ask for clarification. If you don’t understand what a question means, ask for clarification before answering. Generally, the opposing attorney is not trying to trick you. He just wants to get answers to his questions. It’s important that you understand what is being asked, which will help you avoid giving an answer that could hurt your case.
- Ask for a break when you need one. A deposition can be mentally taxing, but you’re allowed to ask for a break if you need to get a drink, stretch your legs, or use the restroom. Don't be shy about asking to stop for a few minutes if you need a break.
The Value of Experienced Legal Representation
Helping you prepare for your deposition is just one thing that an experienced personal injury attorney can do in order to help secure a fair settlement in your case. The team at Rechtman & Spevak is committed to advocating for the needs of injured Georgia residents throughout every step of a personal injury claim. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.