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If you or somebody you care about sustains an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity, you will likely be able to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. The personal injury lawsuit process can be challenging, particularly when it comes to your role in the case. In some situations, you may be asked to sit for a deposition. Here, we want to discuss what a deposition is, briefly tell you what will happen during the deposition, and cover what happens after a deposition has been given.
When you and your personal injury attorney file a lawsuit against the individual or entity responsible for causing your injury, you will go through something called the discovery phase of the lawsuit. The discovery phase will consist of both sides continuing to investigate the intent, gathering any possible evidence, and exchanging information with the other side. During this process, it may be necessary for any witnesses involved who have pertinent information to give a deposition.
If you are the injury victim, it is very likely that you will have to give a deposition as your case moves forward to a trial. Depositions are not formal court proceedings, and they typically take place outside of the courtroom. However, depositions are given under oath, and a court reporter will be present. The defendant will have a chance to ask you any questions related to the case, but your attorney will be there with you to help you through this process.
Often, depositions are used as a sort of “audition” for any potential trial. The attorneys involved will get to see how witnesses hold up under questioning, and they will be working to determine the believability and credibility of the witnesses.
After you give a deposition, it is not uncommon for the opposing side (the attorney for the defendant) to request that you undergo an independent medical examination. Because the case revolves around your injuries, the other side will do everything they can to verify that the injuries have actually occurred and that the injuries are as severe as you and your attorney claim. Even though this medical examination is supposed to be “independent,” this is just another step in the process of the defendant trying to disprove the injured party’s claims.
After the deposition has been completed and the other phases of the discovery process are over with, there is a high likelihood that both sides will continue negotiations. In some cases, a judge may order both parties to undergo mediation. The injury victim will work to obtain a settlement from the insurance carrier of the at-fault party. In the event negotiations or the mediation are not successful, the case will be scheduled for trial.
Remember when we said that depositions are given under oath and that a court reporter will be present during the process? This is important to keep in mind because anything a person says during the deposition can just later on in the court process.
For example, even if you gave a deposition, you will still likely be called to testify at trial. When you are giving your testimony through the personal injury jury, the information that you give needs to be the same that you gave during the deposition. If your story has deviated in any way, the attorney for the opposing side will most certainly use this against you. They will be able to provide the transcript of the deposition and show how your story has changed.
We do want to point out that giving inaccurate statements under oath is against the law. A person could face serious consequences for doing so. Your attorney will talk to you about how to approach the entire process and what happens if there are any conflicts between the statements you give. In some cases, new information may come to light about your injury or the incident that needs to be discussed. Your attorney can help explain to the court why earlier statements are different from the new information you tell the court.
If you have to give a deposition for your personal injury case, then your attorney has likely already discussed what is at stake in these situations. You need to secure compensation for your losses. The deposition process is just another step towards securing the compensation you need to make yourself as “whole” as possible. The ultimate goal in these situations is to secure adequate compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:
The total amount of compensation available in these situations will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular case.
Having an attorney by your side throughout this process is incredibly important. An attorney will be your guide and coach through the deposition process. In fact, it is not uncommon for attorneys to hold “mock” depositions in their office with you before you go to the actual deposition. An attorney will also make sure that you present yourself professionally at all times during the deposition process. This includes staying calm, even if the opposing attorney tries to get you riled up. This also means dressing as if you are going to an actual court appearance. You want to dress professionally and look the part. When you put your best face forward, the opposing counsel will take you seriously and think twice about denying your injury claim.