What Happens at a Deposition?
Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2022 at 8:07 pm
One of the stages of a personal injury lawsuit is discovery. Discovery involves filing requests for documents and information about the case from the other party. A deposition allows an attorney to question the opposing party’s client or witnesses.
Knowing you have an upcoming deposition can be stressful. Adequate preparation is crucial. However, most people don’t know what to expect. The defense lawyer can ask all the questions they wish about the accident. If you don’t practice beforehand, you might say the wrong thing.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a process of gathering sworn testimony from a witness during a lawsuit. The deponent can be the plaintiff, defendant, eyewitness to the incident, expert witness, and anyone else who might know some facts pertinent to the case.
The deponent, their attorney, and opposing counsel will meet for the session with a court reporter. The court reporter records everything everyone says and creates a transcript both sides can review later.
What You Can Expect During Your Deposition
As the plaintiff, the defendant’s attorney will likely request a deposition from you. You should receive a notice of deposition with the session’s date, time, and location. Attendance is mandatory. If you have a scheduling conflict, informing opposing counsel is critical. You can ask to reschedule if necessary. However, it can damage your case if you don’t show up without notifying anyone.
You should have plenty of time to prepare for the deposition. Your lawyer can advise you on the line of questioning you can expect and how to construct your answers. They can also attend the deposition with you but can’t answer any questions for you. However, they will object if they believe any of the defense lawyer’s questions are inappropriate or irrelevant to the case.
Questions Commonly Asked During a Deposition
You can expect opposing counsel to ask a range of questions about your background, the injury you sustained in the accident, the type of treatment you sought, and other details they need to build their case.
The court reporter will swear you in before the questioning begins. That means you are under oath and must provide truthful answers.
The defense attorney will likely ask questions about circumstances such as:
- Background details – The lawyer will start with basic information, such as your name, address, phone number, occupation, and criminal history.
- Accident – The lawyer will dive into the case after obtaining basic information about you. They will ask for your version of the events leading up to the incident. They will also ask you to explain what you were doing in the moments before the accident. Their goal is to determine whether their client is liable or you might be responsible for what happened.
- Injury – Opposing counsel will also want to know about your medical history. They’ll ask about accidents and injuries you had in the past. You might have to describe the nature of your current injury and the type of treatment you had. They will also ask whether your injury affects your life in any way. You can explain its impact on your job or ability to complete basic tasks.
Tips on Handling Your Deposition Successfully
A deposition might seem scary, but it’s not as bad as you think. You’ve probably seen depositions in movies and tv shows. The lawyers always seem intimidating. However, opposing counsel likely won’t threaten or yell at you during your deposition.
You should review these tips and follow them during your deposition to avoid mistakes:
- Ask the lawyer to clarify the question – The defense attorney might ask a confusing question. You can ask them to explain or repeat the question so that you can answer correctly. Asking for clarification is better than responding with irrelevant information.
- Be honest – Honesty is the best policy during a deposition, even if your answer might give the defense team evidence they can use against you. Lying will only make things worse. You’re under oath, so you must provide truthful responses, or you can face serious consequences.
- Speak to the facts – You can say you don’t know if you genuinely don’t know the answer to something. Speculating about the case won’t benefit you, especially if conflicting information comes out later. It will look like you lied.
- Think carefully before speaking – Deponents often rush through depositions to get them over with. You’re allowed to take your time. Think about every question the defense attorney asks and consider how you want to answer before speaking.
Speak to a Knowledgeable Texas Personal Injury Attorney Now
Worrying about your upcoming deposition is understandable. However, hiring an experienced lawyer can help avoid common errors that damage personal injury cases.
At Portner Bond, PLLC, we have over 70 years of combined legal experience representing injured clients. We will assist you with every aspect of your case, including preparing for your deposition.