What is a Deposition?
A deposition is a hearing where you are asked questions by a defense attorney after being placed under oath. It is almost always at one of the lawyer’s offices, but sometimes it takes place at a courthouse or some other location for purposes of convenience. You’re first sworn in by this stenographer (who types everything spoken into a booklet), and then the questioning begins.
Defense counsel will begin with some instruction as to how depositions proceed. You will be informed that answers must be spoken, to not begin your answer until the defense attorney has finished asking it, and other basic ground rules that I would have already explained to you. Some defense attorneys might say that they are not there to trick you, and some of them actually mean that. Most of the defense attorneys are competent and skilled professionals, but some of them try to trick you with improper questions. Try to listen carefully to the questions before answering them.
I expect that you will be nervous about this, but that’s common as this is probably something you are not familiar with. In addition, you will be questioned by the trial attorney hired by the defendant’s insurance company, and they have a job to do – for the most part this means to eliminate or reduce your compensation. This can be accomplished by discrediting you. But keep in mind that this is a simple hearing and your are going to be asked questions about accident, your work and school histories, your course of medical treatment, your life as it was before the injury, and how your life has changed because of the accident.
If you don’t remember an answer, then that is your answer. If you don’t know the answer to a question, then you answer that you don’t know. Simply testify as to what you know, and do the best you can without guessing at anything. For example, the defense attorney has all of the documents in front of him/her, including medical bills with the dates you saw the doctors. If he/she asks when was the first time you saw Dr. X and if you remember the date, say so. If you don’t remember exactly but you recall it was within a week or two of the collision, then that’s your estimate. But by no means should you guess. Guessing, even in attempt to be helpful, is not truthful and in effect may be the wrong answer. Answer the best you can, truthfully, without guessing.