The Ins and Outs of Depositions in Personal Injury Proceedings
See Your Pennsylvania Personal Injury Deposition as a Chance to Share Your Story and Highlight the Facts, Minimize Anxiety, and Maximize Your Opportunity to be Heard
If you are a plaintiff in a personal injury case in Pennsylvania with an upcoming deposition, you might feel nervous about the experience and anxious about what is involved. However, reframing this mindset and, instead, trying to view your deposition as an opportunity for you to be heard and tell your story will not only help you to feel less anxious, but it will also better prepare you to take full advantage of this opportunity to make the facts of the accident and the injuries you have endured as a consequence known.
What Plaintiffs’ Depositions Do in Pennsylvania Law
In Pennsylvania, a deposition is a formal testimony that is given under oath and out of court. It is taken with a court reporter present who will swear in the witness and record all of the testimony. The purpose of a plaintiff deposition is to collect detailed information about the facts of the case, according to the plaintiff. Oftentimes, the deposition of a plaintiff will be scheduled and taken by the plaintiff’s lawyer in order to “work up” the case for trial. This does not mean that your case will definitely go to trial. In fact, it may be your lawyer’s primary strategy to settle the case and they are taking your deposition to demonstrate to the insurance company on the other side that you are willing to go to trial and, through the details shared in your testimony, demonstrate the strength of your claim and the nature and extent of your injuries.
The Play by Play of a Deposition in Progress in a Personal Injury Case
During a deposition, you can probably expect to sit around a large table in a conference room or similar location with your lawyer, a lawyer representing the insurance company for the other side, and a court reporter. While a deposition can feel intimidating and it is a formal process, it is generally (depending on the personalities of the parties involved) a bit more of a relaxed environment than being before a judge in court. Usually, the parties will engage in pleasantries and engage in cordial small talk until everyone is in attendance and ready to start the deposition. At that time, the court reporter will swear you in by asking you to raise your right hand and take an oath stating that you will be truthful in your testimony under the penalty of perjury.
Then, if your lawyer is the one who planned the deposition, your lawyer will begin asking you questions first. This line of questioning is called direct examination, which means that your lawyer will be asking open ended questions for you to answer. He or she will begin by asking you to state your full legal name for the record. Every lawyer has their own style and strategy in conducting a deposition, but your lawyer will typically then ask you to state some basic information about yourself like your date of birth, address, marital status, and employment status.
Next, your lawyer will probably move on to ask you about the accident that resulted in your injuries. They may ask you what you were doing in the moments leading up to the accident, what you witnessed around you right before the accident, how the accident happened, and what you did immediately following the accident.
After asking you about the details of your accident, your lawyer will likely ask you about your injuries. They will probably ask you about any pain, symptoms, and injuries you suffered immediately after the accident, any pain or symptoms that developed after the accident, and what symptoms you are still currently facing. Your lawyer will likely ask you about what medical treatment you received and what treatment(s) you received or are still receiving, including medication, surgery, physical therapy, and any other form of treatment. If your medical provider has issued restrictions on your physical activity, like how much weight you are allowed to carry,
Finally, your lawyer may ask you to rate your pain for each injury and ask you if and how your injuries have interfered with your daily activities or work. After your lawyer is finished asking you questions, it will be the insurance company’s lawyer’s turn to ask you questions about topics you discussed during your direct testimony. This is usually the part that people are most anxious about; however, remember that you are simply there to tell the truth.
The length of a deposition depends on many different factors, including who is being deposed, their role in the case, and the complexity of the facts involved. Generally, a plaintiff deposition will take a minimum of one hour but usually closer to 2 or 3 hours. Of course, depending on your case, it may also take longer than that.
Get Strategic Guidance on a Personal Injury Deposition by Our Bensalem Attorneys
Before your deposition, our Bensalem personal injury attorneys will help prepare you for what to expect and possibly even run through the questions they will be asking you. If a party other than our side plans the deposition, then we may be the second party to ask you questions rather than the first. If this is the case, then our lawyers will probably ask you strategic questions on cross-examination to try to draw out facts about the accident and your injuries that are favorable to your position in the case. Even if we are the party to depose you first, if the lawyer for the opposing side asked you questions that may be damaging to your position, we may ask you some follow-up questions on redirect to bring clarity to any confusion and highlight facts that make your case strong.
Remember, a deposition is your chance as a plaintiff to share the truth about how you were injured and how those injuries have impacted your life. The idea of being deposed is usually far more unpleasant than the actual deposition itself. At Cohen & Riechelson, our legal team will walk you through the entire process ahead of time and be ready to object to any questions asked of you that are improper. The key is finding a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer whom you trust. That’s what we offer at our time-tested personal injury law firm.
Our firm has represented countless injury victims in Pennsylvania, including in Croydon, Langhorne, Levittown, Doylestown, Levittown, Morrisville, and similar towns in Northeast Philadelphia & Lower Bucks County, and we would be happy to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve. For a complimentary review of your case, please contact us at (215) 337-4915 today.