Filing a lawsuit can be a critical and necessary part of the personal injury legal process. When a lawsuit is filed, every party has the opportunity to collect information and evidence from each other during a procedure known as “discovery.” One aspect of discovery is the deposition, during which attorneys can ask questions of the people involved in the lawsuit as well as witnesses.
What is it?
A deposition is a question-and-answer session in which a witness provides information about the case to an attorney. Depositions occur outside the courtroom, usually at an office with a conference room.
What is it not?
A deposition is not a time to air grievances. It is also not an opportunity to open up to the attorney about anything other than exactly what their questions demand (and sometimes not even that much!). Be thoughtful and concise when providing your answers, but always remain truthful. The testimony you provide in a deposition is sworn under oath and it can be used against you in court. While extremely rare, it is even possible to face criminal perjury charges for lying during a sworn deposition.
Are you required to give a deposition?
Typically, yes. If you are the party who has filed suit or been sued, by participating in the lawsuit you are required to sit for a deposition if the other side requests it. Sometimes, even if you are not a party to the litigation but rather a witness to some event related to the lawsuit, you may be subpoenaed to attend a deposition. Although you can try to fight a subpoena, you will need to explain to the court why you believe you should not be deposed.
What should you expect?
When asking questions in a personal injury lawsuit, attorneys will generally focus on a person’s background, details of important events related to the lawsuit, as well as any injuries and treatment.
Remember: it is okay to say you do not know the answer or to ask for a break. The most important thing is to remain calm, listen and speak carefully, and not provide any more information than the question asks. Your attorney will take care of objecting if necessary.
Even though it may not feel as formal as a trial, depositions can be intimidating. Knowing what to expect and preparing for the deposition will help you and your attorney in the long run. A good attorney will explain what to expect and help you prepare for this important testimony.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, please call Aaron Ferguson Law at 651-493-0426 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.