Understanding the Purpose of a Deposition in a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Case
For many clients being involved in an accident that is no fault of their own is somewhat overwhelming. Being seriously injured makes the event even more overwhelming. Hiring a lawyer to help and being cast into the legal system as you seek justice is something no one ever expects to happen to them. Likewise, as one’s case moves forward being told that you need to provide “A DEPOSITION” can send shivers down your spine. Your lawyer will tell you “not to worry” but you don’t really know what a deposition involves. Let’s take a look!
What Is A Deposition?
A deposition is simply a procedure where your attorney and the attorney on the other side sit you down with a court reporter, place you under oath and ask you questions about yourself, about your accident and about your injuries and damages. The deposition is not conducted in front of a judge or in court. It is usually conducted at the office of your lawyer or opposing counsel. The lawyers are trying to gather as much information as you may know about your lawsuit. The lawyers are not trying to trick you or put words in your mouth. They will not be yelling at you or giving you a hard time. They will simply be doing their jobs and trying to find out as much information as possible. Your lawyer from DLP will be by your side every step of the way just in case the opposing lawyer asks you something that is not permitted or gets a bit too aggressive in his or her questioning. There is nothing to be worried about in giving a deposition, except telling the absolute truth.
Will I be prepared before I am called to testify at the Deposition? Absolutely! Your lawyer at DLP will meet with you and your witnesses well in advance of the Deposition to explain exactly how the deposition will proceed, review all evidence which may be the subject of questioning and answer any questions that anyone may have about the deposition itself. Preparation for a deposition is very important. In most cases this is the first time that the opposing attorney—and sometimes the insurance company adjuster—will have to meet you and hear what you have to say about your case and your damages. It is of utmost importance that you are 100% ready to answer all questions honestly and to the best of your ability. Preparation is the key! Your attorney at DLP will make sure that you feel comfortable and are ready to testify once you are sworn to tell the truth at the start of your testimony.
Know What Happens During a Deposition
How does a deposition work? As mentioned above the deposition is usually conducted at the office of one of the lawyers involved in the case. Present will be you, your attorney, the attorney or attorneys on the other side, sometimes their insurance company representatives or their client and the court reporter. The court reporter’s primary function is to “take down” all of the questions and answers verbatim. Once concluded the court reporter will transcribe and type all of the questions and answers into a transcript that can be referred to at a later date if needed. The court reporter is also in charge of giving the witness an oath to tell the truth. This is step 1 of your deposition. Step 2 is the opposing lawyer going first. Before he or she asks question you will usually be given some “rules of the road”. These include 1. Listen to the question, 2. Answer only if you heard and understood the question, 3. Try to answer verbally—the court reporter cannot take down a nod of the head, a ah hah, etc., 4. Try to keep your voice up, 5. Don’t guess or speculate in your answer, 6 If you don’t know an answer just say so and 7. If at any time you wish to take a break or consult with your attorney you can feel free to do so. Following the instructions the lawyer will then ask you all the questions he or she would like to ask. Some lawyers ask a lot of questions and some lawyers not so many. Your lawyer at DLP knows most of the attorneys on the other side and will prepare you for what to expect and how long the deposition may last. Once the first lawyer is finished, if there are more than one lawyer on the other side, that lawyer gets to ask any questions that were not yet answered. Finally your lawyer may ask you some questions. The deposition will then conclude. You will be relieved and your case will move forward. Most of our clients tell us after their depositions that they were a “little nervous” in the beginning but then calmed down and just answered the questions. They also almost to a person tell us that “that wasn’t too bad”!
Let DLP Help with Your Personal Injury Case
The bottom line is that all of the attorneys at DLP have been handling depositions for many, many years. We will have you ready to testify and will be with you every step of way. There will be nothing to worry about. Remember— Injury? Call DLP! (570) C-A-L-L-D-L-P.