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What Can I Expect During a Personal Injury Deposition?

Posted on April 26, 2018

Don’t let the legal term “deposition” intimidate you during a personal injury lawsuit in Alabama. Working with a lawyer and knowing exactly what to expect can give you much greater peace of mind during depositions. A deposition is a necessary legal process in some injury claims that cannot successfully settle outside of the courtroom. The more you know about depositions, the more prepared you’ll be to sit through them. Here’s what to know about why depositions occur, what to expect, and even how you might benefit from them.

What Is a Deposition?

Depositions are primary parts of a trial’s “discovery process.” The discovery process allows both sides of a claim to learn more about the opposition. Personal injury claims in which an insurance company offers a fair settlement and the claimant accepts the settlement will not enter a discovery phase or require depositions. These processes only come about when settlement negotiations fail and the case must go to trial – a rather rare occurrence in the Alabama civil justice system. Most lawyers can successfully settle a claim without a court date.

In essence, a deposition is an exchange of verbal statements between the lawyer and the witness (a plaintiff, defendant, physician, representative, etc.). The lawyer will ask the deposed person a series of questions to gather information about the accident, injuries, and the impact the injures had on the person’s life. Should your case go to trial, you generally must undergo the deposition process. Sitting for a deposition is almost always a requirement of the discovery phase. Luckily, your attorney can handle depositions with the other party on your behalf, as well as prepare you for your own deposition with the defendant and his/her attorney.

The main purpose of a personal injury deposition is to prepare a lawyer for trial. Attorneys generally will not submit statements or information from a deposition as evidence. Instead, the attorney will simply use the deposition to build a stronger case against the opposing side and prepare for probable arguments the other side might make. Exceptions to this rule exist. For example, a physician’s deposition can serve as his or her testimony – meaning the physician will not have to appear at trial. The attorney can read the deposition to the court instead of calling the physician to the stand in person.

Basic Facts About Plaintiff Depositions

Preparing for your deposition as a personal injury plaintiff takes knowing a few basic things before you step into the deposition room. The more you know beforehand, the more confident you can be in front of a legal representative questioning you. Your attorney can help you with more specific advice and information. In the meantime, here are several pieces of information you might find useful for a personal injury deposition in Alabama:

  1. Your attorney will be by your side. Your personal injury lawyer will represent you during your deposition, sitting by your side and offering counsel about what to say and what not to say.
  2. You might be on camera. Some lawyers (but not all) prefer to videotape depositions. It is within the lawyer’s right to videotape you, so prepare to be on camera. A court reporter, or stenographer, will also be in the room to write down everything spoken during the deposition.
  3. The law obligates you to answer honestly. You must give your honest recollections and impressions, as well as any facts of the case, during your deposition. The lawyer might ask you for your general background information, facts about your physical condition before and after the accident, and facts about how the accident occurred.

Follow the rules of the deposition. In general, ask for clarification if you need to, don’t interrupt questions or talk over others, and ask for a break if you need one. Trust your Birmingham personal injury lawyer to steer you in the right direction and prepare you more thoroughly for the process ahead. Once the deposition ends, you can start the next phase of your journey toward recovery.