How to Prepare for your Personal Injury Deposition in Virginia
Imagine the following situation: you were injured due to someone else’s negligence and you filed a lawsuit. Perhaps a year or more has gone by. One day, you receive a phone call from your attorney saying you must now give a deposition. Just the word “deposition” can strike fear into people’s hearts. It sounds cold, ominous and unfriendly. Indeed, the root word “depose” means to interrogate or to examine under oath. No one wants to be questioned at length, especially where any slip up could result in the loss of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands or even more. The rules of a deposition in Virginia are complex and very specific. Personal injury lawyers spend years learning all of the nuances, and even the most experienced lawyers never stop learning the tricks and traps of this challenging area of law. But do not start panicking just yet. Here are a few great pointers for getting ready for your deposition.
Tip 1 – Relax, it is just one tiny step in the process
Sure, your deposition is very important. You should treat it as such. However, in the overall process, there will be many other important elements of your case. Once you understand exactly what your deposition is for, it makes it seem less intimidating. Your lawyer is not the one who wants to take your deposition. He or she can call you anytime to ask questions about the case. But the defendant’s attorneys cannot. They must ask for permission and provide notice of their intent to depose you. When you sue someone, they do have the right to question you in order to prepare their defense. This, of course, is why you have an attorney present.
Tip 2 – Start thinking about the events and make some notes for your attorney
In general, nothing you communicate to your attorney can be disclosed to the other party or their attorneys. Try to recall everything you remember, and give that to your attorney a few weeks in advance. This will let your attorney better assess any weaknesses and possibly help you form better answers to the tougher questions. Remember, your attorney has been through this before and knows fairly well what questions will probably be asked.
Tip 3 – Put aside pride and embarrassment
The defendant’s attorney wants to know as much as possible about you. It is not meant to harass or embarrass, although there are bad lawyers who do this. Such questioning will usually end a deposition and require a judge being contacted. However, in the vast majority of depositions, the reason for intrusive and extensive questions about your addresses, family relationships, jobs, and so forth is not meant to embarrass. Instead, it is used to determine what you may know, what you could or could not have witnessed, and to establish other relevant time, place and situational information. There have been cases, where defendants were sued by victims’ spouses, only to discover, after doing some research, that these spouses were not even married at the time of death. This means the right to sue belonged to someone else entirely. These plaintiffs would not be legally permitted to sue. As you can see, there are reasons for even the simplest questions.
Tip 4 – Be honest and rely on your attorney
Ultimately, your case becomes more valuable the more credible and honest you appear. The best way to appear honest and credible is to actually be honest and credible. Do your best to remember events, but do not lie. Also, never volunteer extra information. If the attorney asks the date of the accident, tell him the date. Do not add that you remember the date because it was a week after your birthday party. This type of seemingly harmless addition will inevitably lead to a whole new line of questioning.
If you or someone you know is involved in a personal injury case, you should be able to count on your lawyer to explain the process thoroughly and help you prepare for the moments that scare you the most. Being deposed, just like being in a trial, can be a terrifying once-in-a-lifetime event. You deserve the best representation you can get. Serving Leesburg, Loudoun county, Fairfax county and the northern Virginia area, Simms Showers, LLP are available for a free consultation today.