If you’ve been hurt or injured and someone else is to blame, a personal injury lawyer can help you to secure damages from the party who is at fault.
In order to prepare to argue your case in front of a judge, the lawyers involved will conduct depositions. A deposition is a question and answer session that allows lawyers on both sides to evaluate the involved parties, witnesses, and evidence, and to plan their cases accordingly.
Plaintiffs can often feel intimidated and sustain a lot of unnecessary anxiety in anticipation of the deposition process. However, there is no need to experience undue stress about your deposition.
Depositions are a necessary part of litigation and are given successfully every day by people in your situation. It’s important to know what to expect and to prepare fully so that you feel as relaxed as possible on the day of your deposition.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is part of “discovery,” the process by which both sides gather information for a trial. This is a formal process that is governed by the court. Each side has a right to know all the relevant facts of a case as well as the information that each party and its witnesses will reveal in court so that they can find evidence to support or disprove the testimony.
The lawyers will use your testimony and the testimony provided in all of the depositions in the case to build their arguments, get evidence, and prove their case.
The deposition process is an integral part of discovery. A person who is deposed is referred to as a “deponent.”
In your deposition, the opposing side’s attorney will ask you questions similar to those you will be asked in court, should your case go that far. No judge will be present at the deposition, but you will be sworn in, and your answers will be recorded by a stenographer. Your lawyer will accompany you to your deposition, but you cannot confer with him or her once questioning has begun. However, your lawyer can raise an objection to a question you’ve been asked or advise you not to answer a question at all.
Depositions are usually given orally, but they may also include questions submitted in writing, the answers to which are also given under oath. In order for the other side to gather all of the necessary information, you could also be required to submit to a physical examination, for instance.
Because a deposition is given under oath, the testimony of any and all deponents may be referred to in court. For more information about deposition laws in Pennsylvania, check out the PA Code for Depositions and Discovery
Who Will Be Deposed in My Case?
It is very likely that both the plaintiff and the defendant in a personal injury case will be deposed. If there are any witnesses, these will be deposed as well.
Depending on the nature of your case, doctors, nurses, or medical staff or experts may be deposed to provide information for your case. Family, friends, or colleagues may be deposed in order to determine your state of mind or physical limitations before and following your accident. A property manager, civil official, or anyone responsible for the physical location in which you were injured may be deposed. Essentially, anyone with relevant knowledge relating to your case may be questioned by the lawyers involved.
A subpoena may be issued to compel certain people to testify or to require the opposing side to turn over evidence that is relevant to the case.
What Kind of Questions Will I Be Asked at the Deposition?
The defense attorney will want to gather as much information about your accident as possible. You will be asked for answers to the following:
General questions about your life, history, and occupation
Questions about whether or not you had a preexisting condition that may have affected the type or the severity of the injury you’ve sustained
Questions about the accident itself and what, if any, treatment you’ve received
Questions relating to any witnesses of the accident
Questions about the outcome of the accident: How has it limited you? What sort of pain have you experienced? Have you missed work or school because of the accident?
What Should I Know Before Giving a Deposition?
It is important to handle yourself professionally at all times when you are being deposed.
Dress and behave as though you were attending a job interview that you really want. Do not be provocative with your appearance or your words when you are being questioned. Try to maintain a calm state of mind and a rational tone and approach. Be aware that the opposing attorney may try to upset or provoke you so that you can avoid falling into this trap.
Remember that it is the attorney’s job to ask questions that will provide the answers that he or she wants. Your answers to the opposing attorney’s questions should be short and to the point. Do not volunteer any information that is not directly asked for.
If you are not sure of the answer to a question or if you don’t recall exactly what happened, don’t be afraid to say so. If you need clarification of a question, always ask. Take your time to think through your answers and never allow the opposing attorney to rush you. You are entitled to take the time that you need.
You are also entitled to take care of yourself during a deposition. You may take breaks, go to the bathroom, or take time for a snack when you need to. You may signal to your attorney whenever your need for a break might arise.
At Donaghue & Labrum, We’re On Your Side
While a deposition is usually considered to be a stressful event for a deponent, preparation is the key to a successful and low-stress session. The attorneys at Donaghue & Labrum have assisted hundreds of clients in giving depositions, and we take all the time you need to prepare so that you feel as relaxed and confident as possible. We will be there for you every step of the way, and we’ll be by your side during the deposition itself to assist you if you feel overwhelmed or to intervene if you have been asked an improper question.
Our clients’ comfort and well-being are as important to us as securing fair and substantial judgments for them. We know how to make the experience of being deposed as painless as possible. Please call the attorneys at Donaghue & Labrum today for a free consultation if you have been injured due to another party’s actions or neglect. We are professional, experienced, personal injury attorneys that are prepared to win you the settlement you are entitled to.