Third Stage Of A Personal Injury Lawsuit: Depositions
The third stage of the typical personal injury case is the deposition.
The first two depositions usually taken are of you and of the other party. For your deposition, we will typically be in one of our conference rooms. Generally, you, me, the other attorney (or attorneys, depending on the number of parties), and the court reporter will be the only ones present. Sometimes, the defendant’s insurance adjuster comes to see how you do.
In most depositions, the witness (you or the other party) is sworn under oath by the court reporter. The opposing attorney asks the witnesses questions and the court reporter compiles the questions and answers into a booklet. These days, many depositions are also videotaped.
When you are testifying in a deposition, you are sworn under oath and are therefore subject to the same penalties of perjury just as if you were testifying before a judge or a jury in a courtroom.
Similarly, your testimony maybe read to the jury or the videotape may be played to the jury, and the judge and jury are supposed to give that testimony the same weight just as if you were testifying live in the courtroom.
The deposition will probably be the most stressful event that you experience in the case up to that point. While the attorneys handle most of the work for pleadings, investigation, and written discovery, it is primarily the witnesses who do the work at the deposition.
Having said that, we’ll do all we can to help make you comfortable so you’re able to do your best. Depending on you and your case, that may include sending you information about the deposition, meeting with you to prepare for the deposition, sending you example depositions that you can read to get an idea what you might be asked, or even playing some deposition video clips for you to see how depositions work.
This preparation is critical. If you’re attorney isn’t spending some time with you to help get you ready for this process, you need to ask why and to make sure your attorney is doing what he or she can to protect your rights.