Preparing for and Giving a Deposition in California
If you file a personal injury claim in California, you may be required to give a deposition. Although the idea of a deposition is daunting for many plaintiffs, it is not something to be afraid of. It is your opportunity to tell your side of the story. With assistance from an experienced Sacramento personal injury lawyer, your deposition can support and strengthen your case.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is an interview where the person being deposed is asked questions under oath by the attorney of the other side of the case. It is a pretrial process that usually takes place in an attorney’s office or a private conference room at the courthouse.
During a personal injury case, if you get called in to give a deposition, you will be asked questions about yourself, your accident and your injury by the defendant’s attorney. How you answer these questions can help or hurt your personal injury claim.
How to Prepare for a Deposition
The best way to prepare for a deposition is by learning as much as you can about what to expect. A lawyer can describe what happens during a deposition in detail. A lawyer can also help you prepare by giving you a list of questions you will most likely be asked during your deposition. Study these questions so you know what to anticipate.
You cannot turn down a request for a deposition. It is a court order, meaning you must appear at the time, date and location listed. When you arrive at the deposition location, the defendant’s attorney, a court reporter, a representative from the insurance company and your attorney may also be in the room. The court reporter is there to transcribe everything said during the deposition.
When it comes time to do the deposition, you will be sworn in. It is very important to only tell the truth during a deposition, as you are under oath to do so. Lying during a deposition is a crime called perjury that can come with serious consequences, including jail time. Then, you will answer questions posed by the defense attorney.
What Types of Questions Are Asked During a Deposition?
Be careful not to say anything that could hurt your case; anything you say during a deposition can be used against you. Your lawyer can help you prepare strong and safe answers to questions that will most likely be asked. These may include:
- What is your name, address and telephone number?
- What is your education and job experience?
- Did you have any pre-existing conditions prior to this accident?
- How did the accident happen?
- What is your official injury diagnosis and prognosis?
- How has your injury impacted your life?
The goal of a deposition is to obtain a party’s perspective on the case and the damages claimed. Therefore, the most common questions asked have to do with the personal traits of the person being deposed and the accident in question.
Tips for Giving a Deposition in California
Having a basic idea of the questions that will be asked can help you prepare for your deposition. It is important, however, not to only expect one line of questioning. The opposing attorney will try many tactics to catch you off guard or incite emotional responses. Stay calm and collected by always listening to your attorney’s advice during your deposition.
It is a good general tip to avoid long, narrative-style answers. Listen carefully to the questions asked, ask for clarification if necessary, and give short and concise answers. Do not offer any additional information in your responses.
If you need to take a moment to prepare an answer, take the time to do so. You also have the right to take as many breaks as you need. Hiring a personal injury lawyer to attend your deposition can make the process easier and allow you to use the deposition as a tool to help, rather than harm, your personal injury case.