If you have been injured in a car accident and have a personal injury case, you may be asked to participate in a deposition. If you have never experienced a deposition before, it is normal to be a little nervous about what will be expected of you. Knowing what to expect can help calm your nerves and make your deposition more useful to your case.
What Is a Deposition?
Basically, a deposition is a question and answer session used to discover facts and gather information about your case. The person asking the questions is your lawyer (or the defendant’s lawyer). The person answering the questions can be anyone who has facts related to the case—the driver, a passenger, a bystander, etc. If you are the injured person, of course, that includes you. The person being questioned is under oath while providing testimony.
Your lawyer will make appropriate arrangements to be sure the other side has been given sufficient notice of the scheduled deposition. It is typical that a court reporter is required to be in attendance. Whichever lawyer has scheduled the deposition will also arrange for that.
What Questions Will They Ask?
Most depositions for personal injury cases will fall into three main categories: personal background, the accident, and damages.
The purpose of these questions can be very broad. One thing they can be used for is to establish your character and credibility. Most of these questions will be very basic and straightforward. Some of them may seem very specific and irrelevant at first but know that they do serve a purpose.
What’s your name, phone number, and address?
(You may be asked for addresses for the last ten years.)
Education and Employment History
Where and when did you attend school?
What degrees or certificates have you earned?
Where do you currently work?
(You may be asked for specifics about your current job—responsibilities, demands, coworkers, pay, etc.)
Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
Have you ever filed a lawsuit?
This is probably what you expected to talk about most in a deposition. The purpose of these questions is, of course, to find out what exactly happened the day of the accident.
Exactly when and where did the accident occur?
Where were you coming from and where were you going?
What were the traffic and weather conditions?
Did you have anything to drink prior to the accident?
How fast were you going?
How far away was the other car when you first saw it?
Where were you (and the other car) on the road when you saw it?
Where on the road did the cars collide?
What parts of the cars collided?
What happened to your body inside the car during the collision?
Were there witnesses? Who?
After the Accident
Where did your car end up?
What damage did your car suffer and how much did repairs cost?
Was there a police report?
Did you speak with the other driver, and, if so, what did you say?
Did anyone admit fault?
These questions help establish the costs you incurred (economic and otherwise) due to this accident.
What injuries do you claim were caused by this accident?
Do you have health conditions that were made worse by this accident?
What symptoms did you have immediately and what symptoms have developed over time?
Do you still have symptoms you claim to be a result of this accident?
When did you first seek treatment for your symptoms?
What healthcare professionals have you seen for symptoms related to this accident?
If you did not seek treatment right away, why not?
How much cost have you incurred in medical expenses due to this accident?
Have you missed work due to this accident?
How much income have you lost due to this accident? Do you expect to lose more in the future?
How have the injuries from this accident affected your daily life?
How have the injuries from this accident affected your personal relationships?
Your Answers and Your Attitude
What you say is obviously important, but how you say it is also important. Even though you may feel nervous or stressed, be calm. It helps to take deep breaths and to take your time. Before answering, give yourself a moment to repeat the question and think. Do not feel rushed. Also, remember that you are under oath. It is essential that you are honest. If you don’t know the answer, say that. If you don’t remember, it is honest to say that. Remember that your lawyer is on your team. If you have questions prior to the deposition, we are happy to answer them.