If you are a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, i.e., the injured party who filed the lawsuit, there is a good chance you will be asked to take part in a deposition. When this occurs, you may have many questions, especially if you have never had to partake in one before. Getting answers to the questions you have about depositions can help to calm your nerves and help you to better understand the process. Here are a few frequently asked questions about depositions for personal injury claims.
Do I Have to Participate in a Deposition?
Typically, an insurance company or attorney representing the party you are suing for your injuries will send you a letter asking you to participate in a deposition. They will then work with you to come up with a date, time and location that is agreeable to you, them and your accident lawyer. It is important to note that you have the option of declining their request that you willingly take part in the deposition. However, if you do this, they can subpoena you to take part in a deposition. If they subpoena you, they will set the date, time and location of the deposition and it is hard to change the date and time. If you receive a subpoena for a deposition, you are required to show up and participate.
Why is a Deposition Done?
A deposition is done to get answers to the questions that the other party's lawyer or insurance company has about you and the accident under oath. Most insurance companies will take a statement from you not long after the accident occurs. However, this statement is not taken while you are under oath and is typically taken before all of the facts surrounding the accident have come out. The insurance company and the attorney have had time to gather witness statements, review video, obtain a police report and, if needed, get your past medical records and a history of any other similar lawsuits you may have filed in the past. A deposition allows them to get answers to all of the questions they have with all of the information they have while you are under oath. This gives them an idea as to what will happen if they take your case to trial and what you will say on the witness stand.
What Questions Should I Be Prepared to Answer?
If you are asked or receive a subpoena to take part in a deposition, it is recommended that you prepare for this event. Knowing what questions will be asked of you helps you to prepare your answers and compose yourself so that you will come across as calm and collected. If you have an accident lawyer, such as Richard M Altman, he or she may even have you do a mock deposition, asking you questions that will be asked of you to prepare. Some of the information you should be prepared to discuss includes:
- Basic background information about yourself, such as your age and marital status.
- What type of work you do and how the injuries have affected your ability to work or perform your work duties.
- Information regarding the accident, including who was involved, how it happened, when it occurred and why you think the other party is at fault.
- Any past medical incidents that are pertinent to this case. For example, if you are claiming a back injury, and you previously injured your back before, you will need to disclose information related to that injury and all of the medical treatment you received to fix that issue.
- All of the past lawsuits you have filed, including but not limited to other personal injury claims, workers compensation claims or medical malpractice lawsuits.
Why is it Important I Prepare and Make a Good Impression?
When you take part in a deposition, it is important that you make a good impression. You will want to dress in attire that is appropriate for court, even though you are not in court. You will want to appear collected and well-spoken. And you will want to ensure you sound believable and are honest. When a deposition is done, insurance companies and the other party's accident attorneys are gauging how credible of a witness you will be if your case goes to trial. If they deem you to be honest and feel you will make a great witness for yourself, they may be more willing to settle your case for what you and your attorney are asking for, rather than risk taking the case to trial. If they feel you are not credible or won't make a good witness, they may risk rolling the dice and taking your case to trial, which can impact how long it takes for you to receive compensation and how much money you may receive.
If you are asked to participate in, or have received a subpoena to take part in a deposition, you may feel nervous. Your mind will likely being to race with questions about this process and what is expected of you. Getting answers to the questions you have will help you to understand why you are being asked to do a deposition and what you can expect from it.