If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are pursuing a personal injury case in Suffolk County, New York you will likely be required to submit to a deposition. A deposition is often a source of great anxiety for most personal injury victims. This is understandable as most people are not familiar with the process. In this blog post, I’m going to explain what a deposition is, taking the mystery out of the process, and discuss the most common types of questions you’ll receive during your deposition. Once you understand these two aspects of a deposition, it is my hope that your anxiety will subside and you will feel confident about your ability to give successful deposition testimony.
First, a deposition is a court ordered proceeding in which you appear with your attorney to give testimony about your accident case. The attorney for the responsible party usually asks the questions. Your testimony is taken under oath in the presence of a court reporter who is transcribing everything that is being asked of you and also all of the answers you are giving. Eventually, your deposition testimony will be reduced to a written document known as a transcript. That transcript testimony will be admissible in a trial should your case not settle. Therefore, it is important to be as accurate as possible with your testimony.
The questions that you will receive will cover several topics. First, you will be asked general questions about yourself such as where you live, who do you live with and where do you work. This is done to give the attorney a general idea about who you are.
Next the attorney will ask questions about your accident. Often the attorney will go into very specific details so it’s a good idea to review any police accident reports, photographs, videos and witness statements. It’s even a good idea to visit the accident site. If you can’t visit the site, you may be able to use Google maps to view it on your computer. Take note of the amount of lanes and road markings, traffic control devices, shoulders, curves, declines/ inclines, speed limit and any landmarks. Keep in mind that you will be asked about the date, time, place and circumstances of the accident. Having a strong mental image of the site of the accident will greatly help you to answer these questions.
After covering your accident, the attorney will next discuss your injuries and any treatment that you received. A thorough attorney will cover every healthcare provider that you visited. So, it’s also a good idea to review all of your doctors names and approximate dates of any major events such as surgeries and hospitalizations.
Next the attorney will ask questions about any prior injuries or treatment to the same parts of your body that you’re claiming are injured in your current accident. Often an attorney will do a background check prior to your deposition which will include an insurance claim investigation. So, if you’ve seen a doctor and an insurance company paid for it, the attorney will know about it. They likely won’t have the actual medical record. But, they will have the claims history and will likely be able to eventually obtain the record through continued discovery. So, it’s never a good idea to lie about your past treatment.
Next, the attorney will ask about any subsequent accidents where you re-injured the same parts of your body you’re claiming to have injured in this accident. Again, the attorney will likely have run a check and have the claim information. So, be forthright about it.
Finally, the attorney will ask about how your injuries have affected your life. Are there things that you can’t do anymore? Are there things that you do, but can’t do as well? This tends to be a very important line of questioning and it’s a good idea to think about this in advance. Many people are affected in ways they don’t even realize. For example, after an accident, you may have pain with simple activities such as standing, walking, sitting and sleeping. It’s a good idea to mention all of these issues during this line of questioning.
Finally, since you’re not allowed to bring notes to a deposition, it’s a good idea to review these topics with your attorney prior to the deposition so that it’s all fresh in your mind.
With a little preparation and an understanding of what will be asked of you, your deposition will likely go very well.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.