Many people who file a lawsuit, such as a personal injury lawsuit for the first time, do not realize the time that they will have to put into their case to have their case come to a successful resolution, whether that be via a settlement or a trial. Once your lawsuit is filed in Court and some documents are exchanged between counsel for both sides, known as paper discovery, the next step will be depositions.
The lawyer for the defendant (the person being sued) will first depose the Plaintiff, or the one bringing the lawsuit. Next, the Plaintiff’s lawyer will depose the defendants. If either side wants to depose someone who is not named in the case, then they can issue a subpoena to have a non-party attend a deposition.
Below is what you can expect if you are asked to attend a deposition, along with some tips on what to say and what not to say to preserve the value of your claim.
At Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC we always thoroughly prepare our clients for their deposition as what is said at a deposition can significantly affect how the defense views the value of your case should you wish to settle pre-trial. Likewise, if your case goes to trial, what is said during your deposition can be used to impeach you if you testify at trial differently than you testified at your deposition.
The Purpose of a Deposition
A deposition is part of the discovery process in a personal injury case when the lawyers from both sides conduct an in-person interview with one of the parties involved. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, depositions have taken place remotely via video-conferencing such as ZOOM, Skype and Microsoft TEAMS. Whether in-person or remotely, the question and answer session is given under oath in the presence of a court reporter who is responsible for recording everything said by typing a written transcript, which can be used later at trial.
A deposition is done after a lawsuit is filed so the lawyer can get answers to questions she or he may have about the case. If you are requested to appear at a deposition, it is mandatory to attend. It is important to be honest and consistent with your statements and only provide facts rather than speculate. Never guess. If you can estimate when questioned about a date, time or speed that is fine, just don’t guess. If you don’t know the answer to a question posed to you, then that is perfectly fine too, and you can just say, “I don’t know.” If you don’t understand a question asked of you, you can ask the lawyer to rephrase the question.
The deposition is usually your first, and may be your only, chance to provide on-the-record testimony and tell your side of the story. Therefore, a written record is created and can be used later to compare to testimony at trial. Besides providing the facts of the incident in your own words, your deposition allows lawyers from both sides to understand strengths and weaknesses about the case and how you would testify in the presence of a judge and jury.
The attorneys at Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC have over a decade of experience protecting the rights of injury victims and licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
Call us today at 212-240-9465.