What Is A Deposition In An Injury Lawsuit?
As a Virginia personal injury lawyer, I am sometimes asked what is a deposition in an injury lawsuit?
A deposition under the Rules of Civil Procedure of the Virginia Supreme Court is a session where the opposing attorney gets to ask the person who got hurt questions under oath about your case.
This is a key part of the discovery process before trial. Not all cases of personal injury or automobile accidents end up going to court. Many if not most are settled before suit has to be filed. So depositions don't occur in every case but only those where the injured person and their lawyer together decide that the case is appropriate to go into suit in a Virginia Circuit Court.
The key to a successful deposition of the claimant in a personal injury case is preparation. The lawyer that you hired should take the time to explain to you what the issues are in the case and to go over the facts to make sure there are no misunderstandings about what happened in the accident and what injuries you suffer.
Normally, I will send the client a set of materials including medical records, police reports and other information like pictures of the scene so that they have some time to get ready for the deposition on their own.
Preparation is Key to a Deposition in an Injury Lawsuit
Then I will sit down with the client often for over an hour to make sure that there are no surprises at the deposition. Normally I go over every question that I anticipate the insurance defense lawyer is going to ask so that there are almost no issues that come up for the first time in the deposition.
This gives me and my client a feeling of comfort that they know what the major truths are in their case and they know how to respond honestly and correctly.
The deposition, though, is a difficult process for the client. It's an opportunity for the insurance company's lawyer to ask lots of questions including ones that are irrelevant to the case.
Unfortunately, there's no judge at a deposition as it takes place in a lawyer's office typically. So there's no person to tell the insurance defense lawyer to move along or to stop wasting time on unimportant facts. This means a deposition in an injury lawsuit can be time-consuming.
The deposition, though, is a critical moment as far as potential settlement of the case. What we want after a successful deposition of the plaintiff is for the insurance defense lawyer to write a letter back to their bosses and the decision makers at the insurance carrier saying that my client was a pleasant person who the jury is going to like and the jury is going to believe.
The benefit of having an experienced personal injury attorney is that they will have sat through hundreds of such depositions during their career. Having practiced for almost three decades, I have been and prepared for more than my share of depositions. The more experience your lawyer has and the more specialized they are in personal injury law gives them a better chance to help make sure that the deposition goes smoothly.
John Cooper is a founding partner of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers. Read more about him here and contact him at (757) 455-0077.