If you have been injured, and you file a lawsuit to recover damages for your personal injuries, one of the most stressful experiences you may face in litigation is having your deposition taken. Depositions are unnerving experience, because the defendant’s lawyer will be sitting across from you, and will ask you many personal questions you did not expect or anticipate, which you are not use to, and you will likely feel uncomfortable. What’s worst, the lawyer taking the deposition may have a video camera pointed at you, and is video taping your deposition, which is allowed under most circumstances in California. It is imperative that your lawyer prepares you in advance of your deposition, so that you are prepared, and are comfortable with your deposition.
I have represented countless individuals in their Personal Injury claims, and after filing a lawsuit, they almost always have their deposition taken by defense attorney, which under most circumstances are hired by defendant’s insurance company.
Most individuals have never had their deposition taken, and they are usually very nervous, and don’t know what to expect.
What is a deposition?
Deposition is a discovery tool for all litigants, where a party sends a notice (commonly referred to as “Notice of Deposition” equivalent to a subpoena to another party, requesting that party to appear on a date, and time, and at times to even produce a list of documents identified in the Notice of Deposition. Depositions are generally held at the lawyers office, and that is usually, the office belonging to the lawyer taking the deposition.
At the deposition, there will be a court reporter or shorthand reporter, who will administer the oath, and will be recording the questions presented by the lawyer, and your testimony under oath. The oath you take at the beginning of the deposition is the same oath you would be taking at trial if the case does go to trial.
The party taking the deposition also has a right to video tape your deposition, and the video tape of the deposition is likely to be admissible at time of trial or a hearing. So it is best to ask your lawyer if the deposition is being video taped, so you can dress appropriately.
Your demeanor at your deposition is critical, because the defense attorney is not only trying to ascertain the facts surrounding the case, but he or she is also assessing you as a witness, in the event the case does go to trial, and that will have an important factor in settlement of your case. Also, it is imperative to be truthful at a deposition, because the last thing you want, is to lie, and give the other side an opportunity to impeach you at trial. If you can’t recall the answer to a question, do not be alarmed, and do not guess. It is best to simply answer you don’t recall.
After your deposition is concluded, you will receive a copy of your deposition transcript, and you will have an opportunity to review your testimony, and make any changes to your testimony. However, bear in mind that any material change in your testimony will allow the other side to comment about your change in testimony, and imply that you changed your story in front of a jury or court. So, although minor changes, like name spelling, minor date corrections may be harmless, it is best to give your best, and accurate testimony at the deposition.
What to expect at a deposition for a Personal Injury Case:
If you are suing someone for your personal injuries, the defense attorney will ask you some background information like date of birth, education, marital status, employment history, relevent past medical history, questions regarding the circumstances behind the incident causing injury, and detail information regarding your injuries and medical treatments you have sought as a result of your injuries. Some of the questions may appear intrusive, and depending on the facts of the case, your lawyer may or may not object, and allow you to answer the question.
For more information on how to prepare yourself for your deposition, you can check “preparing your deposition” on this website, and that will give you a summary of what to expect, and how to prepare for your deposition.
What Type of Questions You Might Expect In Your Personal Injury Deposition:
This is not intended to be all-inclusive, but this is intended to give you an overview of what you can expect to be examined on.
1. Your (1) name; (2) social security number if applicable (3) date of birth (4) and whether he has ever gone under any other name; (5) or different spelling of the same name.
2. General history including: (1) where you were born; (2) all places you have lived; (3) names and location of (a)father; (b)mother; (c)brothers and (d)sisters; (4) education.
3. Marital history – (1) whether you are married or divorced; (2) where marriage or marriages
took place; (3) and if divorced how many times; (4) how many children; (5) where former spouse or spouses can be located; (6) your maiden and present name; (7) and where divorce was granted.
4. (1) Description of the accident, letting you first describe it in narrative form; (2)
and then question-ing you specifically; (3) and in automobile accident cases, condition of the street or other scene of accident; (4) weather condition.
5. Names and addresses of all witnesses known to you.
6. Whether or not any statements were made at the time of the accident or any admissions were made by any of the parties to the accident.
7. What occurred immediately after the accident; whether you went to the hospital and, if so, how, and where, and medical charges you incurred.
8. Names and addresses of all doctors who have treated you prior and subsequent to the accident and who selected such doctors. You should identify your “family doctor,” if you have one, and just what treatments for anything that you have received.
9. Whether you have ever had a claim for personal injury against any person, firm, corporation or governmental agency, and any follow up question depending on your answer.
10. (1) Have you had any previous accidents or injuries of any character; (2) any subsequent accidents or injuries to this one; (3) Do you have any health and accident insurance paying money for prior injuries or the injury made the basis of this suit; (4)
are you receiving any government benefits for disability, unemployment, etc. (5) have you applied for any jobs or insurance that required a physical examination either shortly before or at any time after the accident.
11. (1) Determine the nature of previous jobs; (2) how much you were making; (3) for whom you were working; (4) why employment was terminated; (5) what qualifications and experience you had for the type of work he was doing when injured; (6) what work witness you have done since accident, and describe just what your duties are or were; (8) and your earnings, if you are claiming loss of earnings, or loss of future earnings in your lawsuit.
12. (1) detail question as to what part or parts of your body were injured; (2) and if there is any particular member of the body injured, detail questions as to what you can or cannot do with that particular member.
13. (1) Your status during the last wars; (2) if if you were a service member deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere, details questions regarding your duties, and injuries you may or may not have suffered during your active duty.
14. Questions regarding your past criminal history, and whether or not you were indicted or convicted of felony, and whether or not you have ever been in jail or prison, and whether or not you were injured while you were seeing jail or prison term.
17. In automobile cases (1) your drivers license number; (2) whether or not your license has
ever been revoked, sus-pended or put on probation together with details; (3) history of all prior automobile accidents and moving traffic violations.
The law also allows a party to request that you bring with you documents identified in the Notice of Deposition, and the lawyer taking the deposition may question, and examine you regarding the documents you produce. Documents may be medical records, payroll records, photographs depicting your injuries, property damage, scene of the accident, or any other photograph, or videotape that refers to the incident. If the demand is overbvroad, or intrusive and non-discoveranble, your lawyer will object to that demand.
Law Offices of Tony Forberg handles all types of personal injuries all over State of California, including automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, dog bites, slip and fall, and wrongful death cases. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, call us for a free initial consultation.
We do not charge you any legal fees until your case is settled, and you receive money. If you don’t receive any money, you will not have to pay any legal fees.
Law Offices of Tony Forberg
515 East Broadway
Glendale, C A 91205