When a personal injury lawsuit is filed, both sides have the right to a deposition, or the ability to have their attorney question the other attorney’s client under oath. The purpose is to allow both sides to be fully prepared with all the known information before a trial commences.
There's no need to be nervous about the process, since your attorney is present during the deposition. You can also expect a court reporter (stenographer) present as well, and sometimes the deposition is videotaped. Since there is a stenographer present, be sure to verbalize “yes” and “no” responses.
How Should You Prepare?
Since the opposing legal team and insurance company will use your deposition as a credibility factor, it’s important to be prepared. Furthermore, your testimony (done correctly) can go a long way towards ensuring a successful outcome.
Just as you might prepare for a school test or presentation, it's important that you go over, and be familiar with, your previous statements related to the case and any other related details. Whether it was verbal communication, email, or written statements, review them all. That way you won’t accidentally contradict yourself, but also, you will just feel more relaxed and comfortable in the proceedings.
Consult with your attorney as well, so you will have an insider perspective on what to expect. Being completely prepared will make the whole process run smoother.
What Kind of Questions Can You Expect?
Questions are restricted to what is relevant to the case. If you are the plaintiff, the defense attorney will ask simple background questions, such as your name, address, date of birth, etc. Since this a personal injury case, you will be asked about your physical condition, not just after the accident, but what condition you were in previous to the accident. Then of course they will ask you about specifics related to the accident, how it happened, who witnessed it, etc.
It's important to note that there is a formal process here. It’s not a loose conversation for you to interject statements or ask questions. You will be given a list of questions, simply respond to each the best you can.
Stick to the facts. Answer only the questions asked of you and don’t add opinions or conjecture about the accident. Concise answers help minimize the chance for unintentional errors, giving the opposing side ammunition against you. Of course it goes without saying you need to be completely truthful for the sake of your case and to not find yourself in legal hot water.