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What is a lawsuit deposition?

A deposition is sworn testimony, under oath, which offers information and evidence for a personal injury lawsuit. The deposition is given during the pre-trial discovery process at a specific time and place.

Lawyers are generally allowed to dispose any person they believe may have relevant knowledge and facts about a case. Deponents who refuse to attend a deposition may be forced or compelled through a subpoena.

The goal of the deposition is to gather important information about the personal injury claim, including the strengths and weaknesses of the case. It can also help determine how a witness may act at trial, and how and why an accident occurred.

Attending a deposition

Depositions can be held in a variety of locations. For instance, depositions are commonly held at an attorney's office. Reasonable notice must be given prior to the deposition. Each attorney in the case is allowed to question the witness, cross-examine the witness, and offer objections to questioning. A judge is not present, but a deponent may refuse to answer certain questions.

What types of questions are asked at a deposition?

  • What is the deponent's name, date of birth and place of birth?
  • What is the deponent's medical history?
  • What did the deponent witness, hear and see?
  • How did the accident happen?
  • What was the deponent doing at the time of the accident?
  • What is the nature of the deponent's injuries?
  • Does the deponent have a criminal record?
  • What types of lawsuits has the deponent previously filed?
  • Was the deponent obeying the laws at the time of the accident?
  • Did the deponent see a doctor regarding their injuries?
  • Did the deponent file any insurance claims regarding the incident?
  • Were there any witnesses to the accident?
  • What is the deponent's job history?
  • Did the deponent suffer permanent injury or loss?

Questions may be short and concise or broad and open-ended, but deponents should offer short answers so they do not inadvertently admit key facts to the opposing attorney.

How do I prepare for a deposition?

Prior to the deposition it is a good idea to review police reports, medical reports, and insurance claims related to the personal injury case. You may also want to take time to write down details about the case. It is important to remain truthful and honest while avoiding statements that might be detrimental to your personal injury claim. Avoid becoming hostile or deceptive.

What not to do at a deposition

Because the deposition can play such an important role in your case it is important that you follow some very simple rules.

  1. Do not volunteer information.
  2. Do not argue with the lawyer.
  3. Do not discuss the questions with anyone during break times except your attorney.
  4. Do not guess at the answers to questions you do not know.
  5. Do not become argumentative, get angry, or tell the attorney where to find additional information.
  6. Make your answers concise.