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What to expect in a personal injury deposition

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Hi, I’m attorney Jake Kimball at Springs Law Group, and today I wanted to talk to you about what you can expect in a personal injury lawsuit deposition.
First, the location. It will typically take place in the office of your own attorney in a conference room in which you will have present your own attorney, the opposing attorney, and a court reporter. The court reporter’s job is take down everything that’s said on the record. First, you will be sworn in, at which point the opposing attorney will first ask you questions. He or she will ask you questions that … They sound a lot like you would see maybe in a courtroom, except perhaps a little bit more boring, and you will be expected to answer the question truthfully because you are under oath.
If there are objections to your attorney’s questions, I’m sorry, the other attorney’s questions, your own attorney will make those objections on the record. However, because there is no judge present, the record will just reflect that an objection was made to that question. Then if there’s an issue later, the judge can rule on that objection after reviewing the deposition transcript. You will be asked questions. If it’s personal injury, you can expect to be asked about how the accident actually occurred. It’s usually a step-by-step chronological approach, but they don’t have to go in order if they don’t want to. Then also you’re going to be expected to talk about the injuries that you believe you sustained in the accident and the treatment associated with those injuries.
Typically if you have an injury history, especially if it’s related to body parts that were injured in the subject accident, you can expect that a good deal of time will be spent going over your own injury history prior to the accident. For example, for the neck injury, did you have any other prior neck injuries? Did you have any other prior auto accidents? How were those neck injuries resolved? Were they still hurting at the time of accident? That kind of thing. You can also expect questions about how your injuries progressed through treatment, if they’re ongoing, and that sort of thing.
The questions will also include … If you’re making a lost wages claim, they will include a lot of background questions about your own job, the physical requirements of your job, the restrictions imposed by doctors, that sort of thing. They can also ask you questions about your own personal history and background. In personal injury litigation, it’s very important to have a solid understanding of you as an individual. How are you going to appear to a jury? Are you married? Do you have children? What’s your history in the community? That sort of thing, because all those things build your own credibility.
The other attorney is going to want to know, because that attorney is also reporting back to the insurance company on what they find in the deposition. Are you a good witness? Are you a bad witness? Are you going to appear like you’re lying to the jury, or are you going to appear truthful? Are you well-groomed? Do you have a giant facial tattoo that’s going to turn off a jury? Those kinds of things, they all factor into the value of your case. The other attorney wants to know about those.
The length of your deposition is going to vary. If you’re being deposed because you caused an auto accident, then your deposition’s going to be a lot shorter than somebody who is in a deposition because they’re making a claim for personal injuries, because they’ve got to go through all that medical history and all that sort of thing. You can also expect questions on future treatment. Are you going to need surgery? Are your injuries all better, or do you expect that down the road you’re going to keep needing to go to chiropractors and physical therapists or taking medications and that sort of thing? All of that’s going to be covered in your deposition.
Once the opposing attorney has finished all of his or her questions, then your own attorney has an opportunity to follow up with questions, if your own attorney feels it’s necessary. It’s not always necessary, but sometimes maybe you have answered something in a confusing way, and your own attorney wants to clarify, or some things were left out that they feel was necessary. That’s usually a strategic question that your own attorney is going to make about what questions they feel like they need to ask. Then once your own attorney is done, the opposing attorney can follow up on any of the issues that were addressed by your own attorney. You don’t redo the deposition, but on those topics, those subject matters, on those issues that were raised by your own attorney, the other attorney gets a chance to follow up and learn more about those things.
Once your deposition is over, the court reporter will prepare a transcript. Usually it’ll take a week or two, and then send that usually to your own attorney. Then your attorney will give it to you to review, and you review it for errors. Are there any errors? Did the court reporter misunderstand what you said? Did they misspell a name, that kind of thing? You will put that into what’s called an errata sheet, which your attorney will give you, and then that’s turned in. The importance of that is because you are under oath. This deposition transcript can be used against you, so it is important to have an accurate record.
That’s what you can expect in a personal injury deposition. Obviously we could probably talk for an hour about this kind of issue, because there are very many variations depending on the type of case that you’re involved in. If you have questions about it, please give us a call at Springs Law Group, 719-421-7141, and we’d be happy to see if we can help you out with your own deposition. Thank you.