What can I expect from a personal injury deposition?

If you are a plaintiff in a California personal injury case, you will likely be required to participate in at least one deposition.  A deposition is part of the discovery process, where the parties each attempt to learn more information and gather evidence to support their case.  It involves being questioned by the defendant’s attorney, on the record and under oath.

The deposition will likely take place in a conference room, and will be attended by a number of people, including your attorney, the defendant’s lawyer, and a court reporter. The court reporter will be recording the deposition, which will later be turned into a transcript. In some cases, the deposition will be videotaped.

During the deposition, the defendant’s lawyer will ask you a series of questions about your personal background (including your birthday, Social Security number, and other biographical details), your medical history, information about the accident itself, and any injuries that you claim to have suffered as a result of the accident.  He or she will also question you about any medical treatment that you have received as a result.

Your California personal injury attorney will be sitting beside you throughout the deposition.  Although your attorney cannot questions for you, he or she will object if certain questions are out of bounds, and will instruct you whether to answer or not answer.  Otherwise, you are required to answer the questions asked.  You should do so truthfully, but should not offer more information than what was asked.  “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer, and is much better than making up an answer.

Understanding what will happen at a personal injury deposition is important to help you prepare.  For example, knowing that you will be asked questions about your medical history or the details of the accident will remind you of the need to review documents so that you can refresh your memory about what happened or important details about your health history.  Doing so can be critical in the preparation process.