Many personal injury cases settle without going to court because there are numerous benefits associated with settlement, including potentially saving time, money and risk. However, if a case is going to trial, attorneys often have to depose a witness (take their sworn testimony by asking questions of the witness before trial). This is part of the pre-trial discovery (or gathering of facts) aspect of building a case and these answers may be admissible at trial.
Under state law, a deposition can be taken verbally or in writing. Any party may take the testimony of any person by deposition upon oral examination or written interrogatories for preparation for trial of a case. Someone can be compelled to a deposition via a subpoena. In Pennsylvania, the notice of intent to serve a subpoena must be mailed or delivered to each party at least twenty days prior to the date on which the subpoena is sought to be served.
What to Expect
Depositions in personal injury cases can sometimes involve the defense attorney trying to prove that the injured plaintiff is not as injured as they allege and thus decrease the amount of compensation that they can receive. Some of these questions can include:
- Background information;
- What kind of injury was suffered as a result of the accident;
- Questions about the accident itself – witnesses, etc.;
- Whether you filed an insurance claim;
- If you have suffered from any previous injuries in your life;
- If there have been any changes in your life since the injury;
- Whether you have ever been involved in another lawsuit; and
Your attorney typically prepares you for the deposition and is present to assist you, and you are entitled to take breaks. Your attorney can object to certain questions asked (although a judge is not present, so typically any objections are noted but the questioning continues). Many attorneys will advise you to avoid a conversational tone and, rather, pause to think about each answer before you speak and avoid mentioning extraneous information. They will also encourage you to feel free to indicate if you do not understand the question rather than guessing at the answer.
Your attorney can also depose witnesses that are helpful to your case, and ask them questions to help establish the facts necessary to demonstrate your claim, such as negligence.
Contact Us for Help with Your Case
Solnick & Associates, LLC is a personal injury firm that represents clients in cases arising from car accidents, premises liability, workplace accidents, and other injury-related issues. We can help you with your personal injury case, and any aspect of trial or settlement that goes along with it. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.