Depositions in Personal Injury Lawsuits

If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, it is likely you will be participating in an oral deposition at some point. In advance of being called for a deposition, it may be helpful for you to have a basic understanding of the process as well as your rights, and what may or may not be expected of you upon arrival.

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is a standard pretrial procedure conducted outside of, but in conjunction with the court overseeing the case.

  • They are used to establish what a witness or party knows about the suit
  • They are used to preserve that information in a formal manner
  • Written notice of the time and place of the deposition is given ahead of time, generally through a subpoena process

What Happens at a Deposition?

At the deposition, the person who is being examined is put under oath, usually by a New York court reporter, and the attorneys for each side will then ask questions which will be recorded and transcribed into written versions of the conversation or line of questioning. Sometimes, an attorney may even request a video recording of the deposition.

What Kinds of Questions Are Asked During a Deposition?

Questions can range to any number of topics, and there are often fewer restrictions on attorneys in the way they phrase their lines of questioning. That said, the proceeding is not intended to waste time, so the questions are generally tailored to the witnesses involvement in the case.

Who Might be Asked to Attend a Deposition?

There are many different kinds of witnesses. Expert witnesses like doctors who have treated the plaintiff, or doctors hired by the insurance company to examine the plaintiff, can be questioned at a pretrial deposition. These doctors may be asked about any diagnosis or prognosis, about the type and cost of the treatment for the injury, and about any limitation or permanent injury suffered by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff in a personal injury case will almost certainly have to submit to questioning at a pretrial deposition.

Either side can also call lay witnesses who they suspect or know to have had some involvement in or been a bystander to the incident in question.

A witness in a deposition would be wise to enlist the help of an attorney no matter what capacity they come to testify in. A personal injury case can be won, lost or irreparably harmed on the strength of a single deposition. Choose an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney who can protect your rights during a deposition.

veritextThanks to our friends and contributors from Veritext for their insight into court reporting and depositions.