What to Expect During Deposition for Your PI Case
There’s nothing more disrupting than suffering an unexpected injury. It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions during such a tough time. This is especially true if your injuries resulted from the negligent actions of another party. It’s difficult to have your goals, plans, and everyday life put on hold as you heal from injuries caused by someone else’s mistake. Thankfully, a qualified California attorney can help.
Contacting a personal injury attorney as quickly as possible will help you deal with the aftermath of the accident. There are many steps to a personal injury claim. Learning about what to expect can make the process less intimidating.
Some of the steps of a claim under California law may include:
- Getting the necessary medical attention.
- Reporting the accident or incident to the authorities.
- Collecting evidence.
- Contacting a personal injury lawyer.
- Sending a demand letter, in which your lawyer will request compensation.
- Filing a claim for the damages.
- Entering the discovery phase.
No two cases are the same, so some of these steps or stages of the case may never occur. For example, it’s rare for a personal injury case to go to trial. This only happens if the parties can’t settle the case on their own. Since taking a case to court involves higher fees and a lot of risk, both parties have an interest in making sure that doesn’t happen. However, some cases do go to trial, so it’s wise to prepare.
The Discovery Phase of a Personal Injury Case
After you file a claim, your case will enter the discovery phase. During this time, both your attorney and the other party have the right to gather and examine evidence. The parties can get this evidence by requesting documents, such as photos or medical records. Requests for interrogatories or depositions are also common.
Interrogatories and Depositions: Is There a Difference?
Both situations occur during the discovery phase of a personal injury case. They help either party access and confirm information about the incident and subsequent damages.
Both of these modes of testimony involve answering questions or confirming facts under oath. There is, however, one key difference. Interrogatories are done in writing, and depositions involves a verbal testimony. California law states that during a personal injury case, the attorney for the other party has the right to request your testimony.
Giving a Testimony: Your Complete Guide
It’s common to feel nervous when your testimony is upcoming, especially if it’s your first time. You can be the most honest person and still worry you might mess things up by saying the wrong thing on accident. After all, humans aren’t perfect, and we all stumble over our words now and then. It helps to calm your nerves as much as possible beforehand. You can do that by learning about what to expect.
Is Giving a Testimony Required?
Not every case will involve this type of testimony, but if the other party requests one, you can’t ignore it. Refusing to take part will destroy any chance of your lawsuit having a successful outcome. Although this and other stages of the process might be a little uncomfortable, it’s important to listen to the advice of your attorney.
The good news is that you’ll likely have plenty of time to prepare. The other party must notify you well in advance. This will give your attorney time to give you tips on how to respond to the questions. This will likely help you relax and feel more prepared to take this on.
Where and When Will This Take Place?
The notice you’ll receive will include a time, date, and location. It will also include information regarding the recording of your testimony. Testimonies are usually recorded using video, audio, or a court stenographer.
If you’re unavailable during the stated time, or you’re unable to travel to the location due to your injuries, let your attorney know. They will discuss the issue with the other attorney and come up with a solution that works for everyone.
Can Someone Come Along for Moral Support?
If you’re still nervous on the big day, you might want to bring a loved one along for support. Luckily, this is acceptable under California law. Anyone can observe your testimony as long as they remain quiet and don’t interrupt the process.
What Questions Will They Ask?
You can expect a lot of basic questions, such as your name, date of birth, and address.
Once the basics are covered, they will move on to questions related to the incident and your injuries. They’ll want to know the details of how the accident occurred, what type of injuries you sustained, and what treatments you received. They may want to know about your lifestyle and work prior to the accident and how the injuries affected things. If the injuries caused you to lose a job or miss out on other opportunities, you’ll get the chance to talk about this.
Is Whatever I Say Final?
In most cases, there’s an option to review your answers before they go on record. If you feel you made a mistake, talk to your personal injury attorney. They will advise you on whether you need to clarify anything you said.
Be aware that changing your testimony won’t erase your original testimony from the record. Instead, there will be a note of what changes were made and why.
Is There Anything I Should or Shouldn’t do During My Testimony?
It’s always best to consult with your attorney to get advice tailored to your situation. Nonetheless, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind.
- Be prepared to show any visible injuries you received.
- Have details in mind regarding lost wages, time off work, and other effects.
- Dress in conservative or business attire.
- Be honest if you don’t know the answer to a question.
- Maintain a serious and professional demeanor during the proceedings.
- Show respect to everyone involved in the process.
- Dedicate to being 100% truthful with all your answers.
- Be concise and stick to “yes” or “no” answers whenever possible.
- Ask the attorney to repeat the question if you didn’t understand or hear it clearly.
- Stop talking immediately if your attorney objects to a question.
You should not:
- Be overly friendly or casual with the other counsel or anyone else in the room.
- Elaborate on anything that goes beyond the scope of the question.
- Volunteer information that you weren’t directly asked for.
- Get frustrated or lose your temper.
- Guess about information you’re not completely sure of.
What Happens After Your Testimony?
After you’re finished giving your testimony, stay quiet for any remaining time you’re in the room. Your attorney will let you know how you did, but they will wait until you’re alone. The opposing counsel will likely be listening to check whether you say anything that counters what you said on record.
Once the entire ordeal is over, both parties will be able to review the transcripts from your testimony. You should be aware that depositions can occur more than once during a personal injury case. Sometimes, reviewing the transcripts leads the other party’s counsel to decide they need more information. If this happens, you’ll be better prepared after already having gone through the process once.
Another thing that may occur afterward is a request for a medical examination. Even if you have documentation from your own doctors, the opposing counsel may want an independent examination. They may send you to a doctor with a tendency to minimize the severity of injuries. Thankfully, an experienced California attorney will have encountered this situation before. If it happens, you can trust their advice.
The Next Steps in Your Personal Injury Case
After the discovery phase has ended, the case will either settle or go to trial. The other party’s attorney or insurance company may decide settling is in their best interest. If you’re offered a settlement, your attorney will let you know whether it’s an amount that’s appropriate for your situation.
If you reject the settlement or no settlement is offered, your attorney will advise you on how to prepare for court.
Do you need a personal injury attorney in California? JT Legal Group is here to help. Utilizing 85 years of collective experience in law, we fight to ensure every client gets the settlement they deserve. From filing your personal injury claim to getting through depositions, your highly qualified attorney will guide you through every step of the process.
Please contact us now to schedule your free case evaluation.