You filed a claim seeking damages for a personal injury and now the attorney, like a West Virginia personal injury lawyer, for the Defendant has requested to take your deposition. Do not panic. If you have competent personal injury counsel, you should definitely plan to meet with them prior to your deposition to prepare to give your testimony.
What exactly is a deposition?
A deposition described most simply is merely an interview or question and answer session. The purpose of a deposition in an injury case is for the opposing side to find out what information you have about the accident or incident that caused your injury, how it caused your injury, if that is disputed, and the nature and extent of your injuries, so that they may be prepared for your ultimate testimony at trial if that becomes necessary. In an injury case, typically attending a deposition would be you (the injured party), your attorney, the opposing attorney, and a court reporter. Technically, the other party/parties (defendant) may also appear, but commonly do not.
What Are The Rules?
There are a few rules associated with depositions. First, you must understand that you are under oath. It is important to know the facts about your testimony and always tell the truth. Second, understand that the questions asked of you, answers you provide, and any other dialogue is being taken down by a court reporter. Everything anyone says and the exact way they said it will be in a transcript and can be later used in court. You have the opportunity to receive a copy of the deposition and make changes to it if you deem necessary.
When answering a question at a deposition, make sure to answer verbally. The court reporter cannot transcribe a head nod or other gestures that may indicate your answer. Also, make sure you understand the question fully. Do not answer a question that you do not understand. Ask the attorney to reword the question for you to be able to give an answer. If you understand the question but cannot remember the exact events that are being questioned, it is okay to admit that you do not recall. It is important to keep in mind that you are under oath and your statements are on the record, so it is better to admit that you do not recall than to attempt giving an estimate. If an attorney asks for you to provide your best estimate, it is then okay to do so because it is on record that your answer is understood as an estimate and not exact. If an attorney asks you a question but the other attorney interjects to insert an objection into the record, wait to answer the question until the opposing attorney is finished speaking. It is likely that the attorney that asked you the question will reassure you that you can still answer the question, unless they decide to withdraw the question entirely. At that point, you would not answer the question and would move on to a new question.
How Important is the Deposition?
A deposition can be very important for your injury case and must be taken seriously, but it should not be an overly stressful event. It is simply a question and answer session with a few people to find out the facts that you know. If you maintain your composure and stick to the truth and the facts that you know, it should go relatively smoothly. However, it is your testimony about the accident/incident and the injuries and harm that you suffered as a result and you will be testifying under oath, so its importance should not be under stressed. Do no exaggerate your injuries or their impact, but also do not allow them to be minimized. If you keep in mind the rules above and spend adequate time with your attorney preparing for your deposition, giving your deposition testimony will be a lot less stressful of an event and can help you prove the legitimacy of your claims in your injury case.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Adams Legal Group, PLLC for their insight into recovery from car accidents.