Personal Injury Deposition Questions
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What is a Personal Injury Deposition?
A deposition is a type of pre-trial procedure wherein one party obtains information from the other party. It is usually conducted outside of the courtroom, although the participants may be required to take an oath to state the truth as if they were before a judge. Depositions are often mandatory; a judge may issue a subpoena which requires the witness, plaintiff, defendant, or other parties to participate in the deposition.
What usually occurs in a personal injury deposition is that the attorney for one party will ask the witness a series of questions that are related to the personal injury claim. Since the witness is under oath, they must respond to as truthfully and accurately as they can. The entire question and answer session will be recorded and typed by a court recorder. A copy of the deposition may then be submitted as evidence for use in trial.
What Types of Questions are asked at a Personal Injury Deposition?
In any personal injury case, it is important that each side obtain all the information related to the injury. The information obtained during a personal injury deposition can determine the outcome of the trial. For example, recovery may be limited if the victim had previous injuries.
Therefore personal injury depositions almost always involve very personal questions. Some of these questions may include:
- What types of injuries and illnesses have you had during the course of your life?
- What types of lawsuits or legal claims have you previously been involved in? (Such as insurance claims, property claims, and workman’s compensation claims. Even unrelated legal claims such as a divorce will need to be disclosed)
- Do you have a criminal record? If so, what crimes were you convicted for?
- Details related to the accident or injury: For example:
- What were you doing at the time of the accident? Where were you going?
- At what location did the injury occur?
- Who was with you when the accident happened? Were there any witnesses?
- Were you obeying driving or pedestrian laws at the time?
- Did you file any insurance claims regarding the incident?
- Details related to your present injuries: For example:
- What is the nature of your injury?
- Is this injury a new injury or simply an aggravation of an existing injury?
- Did you see a doctor regarding your injury? At which hospital?
- Did you receive treatment? How long was it? When was your last treatment?
- Did your injury prevent you from functioning normally, such as attending work?
- What have you been doing since your injury?
- What can you no longer do as a result of the injury? (especially if you will be claiming for permanent impairment)
- What is your job history? (especially if you will be claiming lost wages)
You will also be asked to disclose past information, such as your history of previous residences and employment history.
You may also be asked questions that may seem unrelated, but are asked for the purpose of testing your memory. For instance, you may be asked to recall what the color of a particular car was, or how long you have known your doctor. These types of questions are allowed in a deposition, and can provide evidence of your reliability as a witness or truthfulness when testifying.
What can I do to Prepare for answering Deposition Questions?
Probably the most important step you can take when preparing for a deposition is to review any documents that are related to the personal injury claim. For example, you may wish to review any police reports, medical reports, and insurance claims that you have. These will help refresh your memory prior to attending the deposition.
It also helps to create a written account of the incident that caused the injury. Persons tend to forget details during the course of the proceedings, which can take some time. Having a written account can help prevent gaps in your testimonial account. Try to write the description of the injury while the event is still fresh in your memory. Include as many details that you can recall; even seemingly unimportant facts may play a role during trial.
Finally, understand that depositions may be used as evidence in court. Avoid making statements that might be detrimental to your claim or that cast doubts on your credibility. However, you should remain truthful and cooperative during the deposition. It will be noted in the record if you act in a manner that is hostile, untruthful, or deceptive.
Do I need a Lawyer for Personal Injury Depositions?
If you are being requested to participate in a personal injury deposition, it is to your advantage to hire a lawyer. Your personal injury lawyer can help you prepare for the deposition, and can be there during the questioning to assist you. Depositions need not be intimidating or frustrating- being well prepared can help minimize complications during the process.
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Last Modified: 06-28-2013 12:21 PM PDT
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