What Are Personal Injury Depositions?

In any lawsuit, there is a part of the case where both you and the opposing party will have the ability to gather evidence that is in the other side’s hands. You can seek factual evidence and documents that the defendant holds, and they can do the same from you.

One powerful form of discovery in a personal injury case is a deposition. Each side has the right to question the other party’s witnesses under oath. The purposes are to learn more information and to get you on the record before your potential trial testimony. Depositions can be very stressful, but they are a crucial part of your case. Our Alabama personal injury lawyer at Steve Morris Law can defend you during your deposition after extensively preparing you to testify.

What Happens During a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case?

A deposition is a very long series of questions, seeking relevant information to your case. Under discovery rules, you can be questioned under oath for up to seven hours.

You can expect that you will be deposed if you have filed a personal injury lawsuit. The deposition is conducted by the other party’s attorney.

Once you are sworn in, the attorney will begin to ask you questions. First, they will begin to ask questions that lay a foundation for what they are going to ask during the deposition.

Then, the attorney will begin to ask questions about what happened before and during the accident. They will also want to know about your physical condition and what you have experienced since the accident.

The deposition will be their first chance to hear from you personally after reading your legal complaint and possibly speaking with your lawyer.

The deposition will not necessarily be like what you expect in a courtroom. The attorney is not necessarily seeking to ask “gotcha” questions. Instead, they are trying to learn what you know and how you may testify if the case goes to trial.

Your lawyer will be there to defend you, objecting to questions as they may at trial (such as when you are asked irrelevant, argumentative or repetitive questions).

Still, you must take a deposition extremely seriously. If opposing counsel either elicits damaging information, or your attorney realizes that you may not hold up well in questioning under court, it could undercut the strength of your case.

Preparation for a Deposition

It is crucial that you are prepared for a deposition. If you are answering questions from opposing counsel for the first time without any practice, you may have a difficult time.

Your personal injury attorney will work with you to help you get ready for the deposition. They may simulate deposition conditions and ask you questions as opposing counsel would. In addition, you should also practice speaking on your own to help when the time comes.

In preparing for the deposition, you should also learn how best to answer questions. In most cases, you are best off giving limited answers to the questions that are asked of you. Where you may get yourself into trouble is when you begin to volunteer additional information that has not been asked.

Once you say something that is on the record at a deposition, you cannot testify at trial in an inconsistent manner. If you do, you can be impeached as a witness with the opposing counsel reading back your inconsistent deposition testimony.

What Happens After a Deposition?

Depositions often happen at the tail-end of the discovery process. Oftentimes, each party will then file a motion for summary judgment with the court, asking the judge to rule on issues where there is no dispute between the parties. They will try to use what they have learned in discovery to establish facts for the judge to consider.

The parties may then step up their settlement negotiations. Most personal injury cases will not reach the point of a trial. Each party will reassess the strength of their case based on what they learned and how they fared in discovery.

If you had a strong deposition, and opposing counsel realizes that you would make a persuasive witness at trial, it would greatly strengthen your case. The insurance company (representing the defendant) would realize that they are in a weaker legal position, and they may increase the size of their settlement offer.

If you still cannot settle your case, you would then proceed to trial, using the evidence that you already had and what you have learned in discovery. You can expect opposing counsel to make heavy use of your deposition testimony, especially when they are cross-examining you at trial.

Rely on the Guidance of a Skilled Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer

To learn more about what to expect at a deposition, and everything else you need to know about the personal injury process, contact Steve Morris Law today. We will guide you through the claims process from start to finish, working to get you every dollar to which you are entitled. You can schedule a free initial consultation by calling us today at 256-357-9211 or by messaging us through our website. You never need to pay us anything upfront or while your case is pending.

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