Preparing For and Giving a Deposition in Missouri

March 2, 2021Personal Injury

One of the steps in the personal injury claims process is the deposition. It is a pre-trial process that can be of critical importance to the outcome of your claim. That’s why it must be prepared for and approached with special care. 

What Is a Deposition?

A deposition is where a person is questioned under oath for evidence but outside the court’s presence. Depositions allow both parties to a lawsuit to learn its details and gather evidence of what happened. With personal injury cases, the person interviewed can be the victim of the accident, a witness, or the person accused of causing the accident. If you are a victim of a personal injury and asked to go through a deposition, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney before it. Your lawyer can be present with you during questioning and can help you prepare. 

What Types of Questions are Asked at a Deposition?

The information obtained in a deposition can impact if and how much compensation you recover. The following types of questions can be expected: 

  • What happened to you?
  • Was anyone with you when the injury occurred?
  • Were there witnesses?
  • Did you file an insurance claim?
  • Did you call the police?
  • Did you see a doctor?
  • Did you receive treatment?
  • How have you been feeling since your initial treatment?
  • Has the injury affected your life in any specific way?
  • What injuries have you had in your life?
  • What illnesses have you had?
  • Have you ever been involved in litigation before?
  • Do you have a criminal record?
  • What do you do for work?

In most cases, you cannot refuse to answer questions. The only exceptions for not responding are if the answer would reveal privileged or irrelevant private information or if the court previously ordered that the information cannot be disclosed. In that situation, your attorney will object to the question. 

If you are subpoenaed, you must show up to a deposition. If you fail to do so, you may be found in contempt of court and on top of that, you would still be forced into deposition. 

Tips On Preparing For Your Deposition

While your attorney cannot tell you what to say, they will stress the following tips in preparation: 

  • Be honest
  • Know the facts
  • Speak clearly, and explain everything verbally
  • Understand the question completely before answering, and ask for clarification
  • Only answer what’s asked
  • Don’t talk over the questioning attorney, and pause at least 2-3 seconds before answering
  • Don’t assume a fact is true just because the questioning attorney mentions it
  • Watch out for leading questions
  • Don’t guess or speculate
  • Respect the opposing attorney

Before your deposition, set aside some time to remember everything that occurred when you were injured. If you don’t understand a question, do not hesitate to ask for clarification. When you do answer, pay careful attention to what the attorney is asking. Be aware that it can be very easy to automatically agree with their statement or answer more than is asked. Many deposition questions can be answered in either one word or a short sentence. 

Let Us Assist You

Our St. Louis personal injury attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer are highly experienced in preparing and guiding clients through depositions. Call (314) 231-4100 today to schedule a free consultation.

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