If you have made an accident claim, then it is likely that you will soon be completing a personal injury deposition. A deposition is a statement taken from you that will be under oath and in front of a court reporter. Personal injury depositions are allowed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and are essential in the discovery phase of your case. Your deposition will be recorded, and this video recording may also be used in a trial if your personal injury claim goes that far. They are an excellent piece of evidence used by both your own and the other party’s attorney. Completing a personal injury deposition can be daunting if you have not been a part of one before, but it is important to stay calm, and a personal injury lawyer from The Law Place will help you understand more about what to expect.
If you need to complete a personal injury deposition, then contact The Law Place today. Our law firm boasts 75 years of combined experience and is more than able to help talk you through this process and prepare what you will say. Our team can promise a dedicated, confidential attorney-client relationship to ensure your maximum comfort when working with us. Contact us today to schedule your own free consultation. This meeting will provide you with the chance to ask any questions and receive relevant legal advice. Call our office at (941) 444-4444. Phone lines are open 24/7.
Our Quick and Essential Top Tips for your Personal Injury Deposition!
It is important you do not work yourself up and instead focus on staying calm whilst you deliver your injury deposition. If you start getting stressed, this can cause you to become confused and forget important details that would otherwise help your personal injury case. If it helps, you can always take notes to your deposition so that you feel calmer about remembering certain details.
Always Tell the Truth
This may sound like common sense, but it is absolutely essential you always tell the truth. Never sugarcoat, exaggerate, or make guesses. The defense lawyer will be able to catch you in a lie. With how advanced technology is today and how well everything is documented, it would not be difficult for them to do so. The deposition transcript is a written record and can be cross-referenced with what you have said in other statements and pieces of evidence. Even being caught in a lie as small as saying you did not have breakfast that morning could be used against you and used as a means to question your credibility.
Only Answer What Is Asked of You
Our aim is to make sure that the other attorney really has to work for what they want. If they do not ask the right question, then you should not give an answer. You should listen carefully to what is being asked and only answer this, do not give other details that are not relevant. Keep your answers concise and short but nice.
Do Not Produce Documents
Depositions provide you with the chance to verbally express what has happened to you. If the other attorney asks you to provide documents (such as your diary, driver’s license, or notes), then you should not agree. Instead, be polite and ask that they instead ask your lawyer for these documents.
Do Not Make Guesses
This is very similar to always telling the truth, but it is extremely important that you do not start guessing if you cannot remember what happened. If you guess wrong, then this could be construed as a false statement or a lie, this can cause doubts about your credibility, and the other lawyer will use it against you. If you are not 100% sure of the answer, then tell them this, and if you do not understand the question, you can ask the attorney to rephrase the question, do not start guessing what they may mean.
Always Come Prepared
Before going to your personal injury deposition, you should review the photos of the accident, any statements you have already made, and the police report. These can all be used to refresh your memory and ensure that you can provide a detailed account of what happened when you are asked. In theory, being well prepared will significantly increase your likelihood of achieving a successful deposition and being rewarded with compensation.
The Defense Lawyers Are Not Your Friend
It is important to remember that the opposing party and their lawyer are not your friends. Your deposition is not a casual conversation. It is an important interrogation. It is unfortunately likely that many defense lawyers may exploit your lack of experience and take advantage of you so that they can find any weaknesses in your case and the answers you give.
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What Are Common Personal Injury Deposition Questions?
Our lawyers have been a part of many personal injury cases and witnessed many depositions. These questions are called interrogatories, and you should be well prepared for them. Some of the most commonly asked questions we have witnessed include:
- What were you doing before the accident?
- Had you taken any medications on the day?
- What did you eat on the day of your accident?
- Had you consumed any alcohol or drugs within the 24 hours prior to your accident?
- How do you remember the accident occurring?
- What did you do immediately following the accident?
- What injuries/pain did you experience immediately after?
- Were you offered an ambulance after your accident, and did you accept if so?
- Did your car have any mechanical issues before the car accident happened?
- Did you talk to the defendant or any witnesses after the accident? What was said?
- What did the police ask you, and what did you tell them?
It is important to keep in mind that there is not a guaranteed list, and you could be asked questions not on this list that are more specific to your accident.
The Three Phases of Personal Injury Depositions
In most cases, the personal injury deposition process will be made up of three distinct phases. These are as follows:
Phase One: Life Before your Accident
Here the defense lawyer will ask a range of personal background questions, such as places you have lived, worked, gone to school, medical records (if you have any relevant prior injuries) and relevant doctor’s names, drug/alcohol history, and if you have any criminal convictions.
The opposing attorney is extremely likely to ask if you have ever made a claim for worker’s compensation or personal injury before, as well as if you have ever sued somebody before or alternatively been sued yourself. Additionally, the opposing lawyer will want to know a lot about your medical history. This is because pre-existing injuries could be used against you and why you chose the doctors you did.
In this phase, it is wise to keep your answers brief and do not elaborate. This is only the background phase, and it is best not to provide them with something they could use against you.
Phase Two: What Happened in the Accident?
This phase will solely focus on the facts of your accident. How you describe the accident and how it happened can be critical in securing your claim.
In the event of a contested litigation accident, and you don’t know how the accident occurred, then you may not be able to refute what the defendant has said. In the event of this, you should discuss options in detail with your own lawyer. If you are able to accurately estimate what happened, then it is best to do this. If you do not know, then you should by no means start guessing. This can hinder your case.
Phase Three: Life After your Accident
This will center on your life after the accident and how it has impacted your life. In this final phase, the insurance company’s lawyer will ask you questions about how your life has changed because of the accident, what injuries you sustained, how these injuries affected your ability to work, any impacts on your mental state, any necessary follow up care, or how the injuries will affect your future. In this stage of the deposition, your deposition testimony should be as detailed as possible, and you should explain in detail how the accident has impacted you, do not hold back but always tell the truth.
What Is the Discovery Phase of Personal Injury Cases?
In civil cases, you are likely to go through the discovery process. This will provide you and the opposing counsel with an opportunity to investigate the case and gather more evidence. This is a formal court procedure that allows your lawyer to demand evidence using the powers of the court. The aim of this discovery process is to minimize any issues in the case and make sure all possible evidence is out in the open. This can significantly help both sides resolve who is to be held liable due to how much evidence comes to light.
The rules of discovery are laid out in Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedures 1.280-1.410. These rules stipulate what can be uncovered and how the discovery is to be conducted. For instance, there are rules for how many interrogation questions can be asked.
There are several kinds of discovery used in Florida personal injury claims, these include:
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What Are Objections in a Personal Injury Deposition?
Objections can be very useful in your personal injury case. Objections are a formal protest raised in your deposition. They indicate that the objecting attorney wants the Judge to disallow the testimony given or evidence provided due to a violation of the rules of evidence or procedural law. The Judge can either sustain or overrule this objection.
Your lawyer may also object to a question if it violates your constitutional right to not incriminate yourself. If you hear your lawyer do this, then it is important you stop speaking immediately and listen to any instructions or advice your lawyer provides.
Furthermore, your personal injury lawyer may also object if there has been a violation of the attorney-client privilege. The other party is legally not allowed to ask you about what you and your attorney have discussed in your meetings. This is privileged information. It is likely your lawyer will object and remind you that this is privileged communication, so you should not answer.
In a legal deposition, there can also be objections to form. This will occur when your legal representation objects to the form of the question being asked by the other party’s attorney. You should stop talking at this point and listen to your attorney. The question may have been misleading or difficult to understand, so it would not lead to a fair answer. An objection allows for the question to be reworded or scrapped from the entire deposition.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney From The Law Place Today!
If you are currently in the process of a personal injury lawsuit and are facing a deposition, then contact our law firm today. Here at The Law Place, our attorneys have 75 years of combined experience in witnessing and being part of depositions. A deposition in a personal injury lawsuit can be a daunting prospect, but we are more than happy to help you prepare for your time in court and explain what you should and should not say to the other lawyer involved. Depositions are vital in securing you the compensation you deserve, so it is in your best interest to do everything to ensure your deposition is as successful as can be. This includes hiring legal representation.
Our law firm can offer free consultations to all personal injury victims. Your free case evaluation will provide you with the opportunity to receive relevant legal advice and ask any questions you may have, this is no obligation, so if you decide against hiring a lawyer, then that is fine! Our practice areas cover the State of Florida, so do not hesitate to contact our law firm.
Call our office today at (941) 444-4444. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for your own convenience!