Depositions of injured plaintiffs are common in personal injury cases. The purpose is for the defense to ascertain all of the relevant facts in a case. In a deposition, the parties will be present with a court reporter and the defendant’s attorney will ask questions designed to flesh out the main issues in the case. If the case goes to trial a deposition can also be used to impeach a plaintiff. This means if a plaintiff testifies about certain facts of the case in which they claim to have personal knowledge, and it contradicts what was said in the deposition, the defense attorney can use the deposition to show a judge or jury that the plaintiff isn’t good at telling the truth. Another reason for a deposition is to size up a plaintiff to see how they will be at trial. Is the plaintiff credible? Personable? Are they confident in their answers? Is their presence confident? These are little things that can work for or against a plaintiff in front of a jury. Even if you are looking to settle, it is best for a plaintiff to display a confident attitude as this may help the negotiation process.
Some tips for those in depositions:
- Tell the truth! I cannot emphasize this enough—it is important to be truthful because then you don’t have to keep your lies straight. Attorneys will ask many questions and they are looking into precise details about the alleged event. The questions are designed to ensure that the plaintiff is telling the truth. Guessing is also not a good strategy.
- The defense attorney is not your friend. People are generally intimidated by attorneys and believe that they will be hostile. Some will, but attorneys are like people in every other profession, some are mean and some are nice. I understand that the process is scary for many plaintiffs but it is important not to let your guard down just because you are pleasantly surprised by the behavior of the defense attorney.
- You can request a break. If you feel overwhelmed or have to go to the bathroom, you can always request a few minutes to make yourself comfortable.
After you receive a copy of your deposition, it is important for you and your attorney to review it for any inaccuracies.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Your case may be different. Hiring an attorney immediately will protect your rights. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.