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What Is a Deposition?

Colburn Law

If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit in Washington civil court, chances are you will have to attend a deposition. A deposition is a tool that courts use during the discovery process prior to your case’s trial, allowing your attorney to learn about the circumstances surrounding your case and find potential pieces of evidence. Since these meetings are crucial to proving your case, it is important that you know what to expect.

What Happens During a Deposition?

The personal injury lawsuit process involves a number of stages, beginning with you filing your lawsuit in civil court and ending with a settlement decision during a trial or negotiation. A crucial period in this process is the discovery period, where both your attorney and the at-fault party’s attorney will examine all pieces of evidence related to the case and understand what each side is bringing to the courtroom.

The deposition allows you or anyone else involved in your case to provide potential pieces of evidence. During a deposition, you, a witness, or the at-fault party in your case will appear and give a sworn testimony of the facts of the case under oath. A court reporter may also be in the room to make a record of the deposition.

While you are at your deposition, the attorneys present will ask you a series of questions about your case. Both your attorney and the at-fault party’s attorney will provide these questions. These attorneys may use the testimony that you give during your deposition in the courtroom.

It is important to answer these questions truthfully, since it is a sworn testimony – but you do not want to inadvertently say something that could harm your case. Your attorney will help you prepare for this questioning if necessary.

How Can a Deposition Help Your Personal Injury Case?

In most personal injury cases, your attorney will depose witnesses and at-fault parties on your behalf. It is important to remember that the purpose of a personal injury deposition is to find the evidence necessary to help you with your case. By questioning the people that will most likely testify during your trial, your lawyer can collect the following important pieces of information.

  • The important facts about your case that the deposed person is aware of
  • How the deposed person will likely behave during his or her courtroom testimony
  • How the at-fault party will plan to argue against you in the courtroom, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of his or her testimony
  • How and when your injury occurred

For example, say that you were crossing the street on foot and a vehicle ran through a stop sign and struck you. Your attorney may depose the at-fault driver and ask him or her questions about what he or she was doing at the time of the accident, whether he or she realized that the stop sign was present, and his or her version of events.

If you enter a deposition for the same case, the at-fault driver’s attorney may ask if you were crossing at a marked intersection, if you looked before you crossed the street, or about the extent of your injuries. It is important to consult with your attorney before any deposition you attend or undergo.

Preparing for a Deposition

Entering a deposition can be nerve-wracking, but your personal injury attorney can provide guidance before you enter the room. Remember to stay calm, answer the questions truthfully, and keep your answers complete and brief. Refrain from rambling or saying something dishonest – this can lead to further consequences later on.

If you don’t know an answer to a particular question, state that you do not know and move on. Remember that the purpose of the deposition is to provide the court with information that only you know about your case – state only the facts and follow the advice of your attorney. If you do not have an attorney for your personal injury case, contact one as soon as you can.