A deposition is a sort of interview session that is held under oath outside of a courtroom prior to the start of a trial. Every question and answer is recorded and added to the official record so attorneys can refer to them during the trial. The purpose of a deposition is to gather information and facts directly from one of the involved parties.
It is important to prepare for a deposition prior to the actual day, and our personal injury attorneys in Sacramento are prepared to help you do that if and when your case makes it this far. It is important to note most cases do not make it this far, as they are settled beforehand.
Below, we discuss some of the things to expect before, during and after a deposition.
Since depositions are not conducted by the court, the number of people who are present during a deposition is limited. Generally, the only people present during a deposition are:
Only one person at a time can be deposed, so two witnesses cannot be present during one’s deposition. This means that the process of conducting depositions may be lengthy if there are multiple witnesses or parties to the lawsuit.
Depositions are part of the discovery phase of the legal process. Therefore, they are usually only required when both parties fail to reach a settlement agreement and a lawsuit is filed.
In many cases, the opposing parties may agree to a settlement before the date of a deposition, which means it would no longer be required.
Before the deposition takes place, your attorney should go over some of the potential questions with you to help prepare to answer them in a way that defends your best interests.
Usually this means looking over your case file and clarifying your answers to some questions so they may not be twisted to the benefit of the liable party.
The questions asked during a deposition, also known as interrogatories, generally fall into several categories. Remember that your attorney is not allowed to tell you how to answer these questions on the day of the deposition or answer them for you. However, he or she may object to certain questions.
Depositions can dig deep into a person’s background, so do not be surprised if the opposing party asks you questions regarding your family, financial history and other personal information.
Attorneys that represent the liable insurance company tend to get personal in hopes of bringing something in your background to light that may hurt your case but help theirs. For example, they may pounce on debts in your financial history to try and argue that you are exaggerating the details of the accident or your injuries just to get a big pay out.
In an effort to try and pin your injuries on a prior injury or condition, the opposing party may ask questions about your medical history or physical condition before the accident occurred.
You are sure to be asked questions about the accident during your deposition. You will also likely be asked things like where you were going or coming from when the accident happened and what you were doing when the crash happened.
These questions are generally asked to try and get you to admit you were negligent prior to the crash and that may have made you at least partially responsible for the accident.
Just as you are likely to be asked about the accident, you are sure to be asked about your injuries. After all, your injuries are the reason there is a lawsuit.
The attorney for the insurance company is going to try and ask as many questions as possible about the extent of your injuries, the pain you felt right after the crash and how you feel at the time of the deposition.
Lastly, you may be asked about how your life has changed since the accident. If you were an active individual prior to the crash, the opposing attorney is likely going to ask you how much your injuries affected your ability to engage in the same type of active lifestyle as before the crash.
Once the deposition is completed, the official transcript and any evidence submitted will be entered into the record and made available to both sides.
Each side may review the transcript to get a better understanding of the answers to backup their claim or defense.
Depositions are crucial in building a case, so it is important to have an attorney who has the knowledge and years of experience to help you be prepared.
Not every case will require a deposition, though, but it is generally a good idea to file a claim with the idea that you might need to go to court. That way, you can have a strong case for compensation from the beginning.
We offer a free consultation with no obligation to take legal action.
Call 916-777-7777 to let us review your claim.