Preparing Our New York City Personal Injury Clients for Their Depositions
Over the years, our firm has learned that telling our clients how their lawsuits will normally unfold and helping them prepare for their depositions are two of our most important tasks. Once we’ve accepted your case, we’ll carefully investigate all the facts, obtain all the pertinent medical records and other documents — and then file the pleadings.
Your deposition is part of the lawsuit stage known as discovery. During this process, we’ll request crucial documents and records from the defendant’s attorney (and those possessed by any insurance company that may be involved). We may also send out questions that require sworn answers to familiarize ourselves with all the defendant’s key information and defenses to your claims. And we may send out requests for admissions. Throughout this lengthy stage that can extend until a trial begins (when no agreeable settlement amount could be reached), both sides will try to learn all they can about the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s cases.
What follows is a broad overview of some of the types of topics we may discuss when we meet with you to prepare you for your deposition. We’ll be sure to answer all your questions in advance so that you will be able to present yourself in the best manner possible – providing honest answers while not providing more information than has been specifically requested.
Steps we take to properly prepare our clients for their depositions
Prior to your arrival, you can be sure that your lawyer will thoroughly read through all your medical records, carefully noting the course of treatment for each injury alleged in your lawsuit. Normally, this will not be the first review since this is also done prior to all attempts to settle your case with opposing counsel. We will have also thoroughly reviewed all still photos or videos that may be pertinent to your case – so we can help refresh your memory about any highly specific details regarding your accident – which may have occurred more than a year prior to the date set for your deposition.
We’ll review all the key evidence that supports your claims against the defendant. This will include helping you recall the precise timeline that developed regarding your complaints made at the accident scene and to all treating doctors. We will also review the most pertinent parts of your medical records with you. Prior to your arrival – or even during a prior office appointment, we will ask questions to help us be sure we understand any delays in treatment and why they took place – so you can be ready to respond to questions on this topic.
If your accident occurred outdoors, we may review an aerial map of the road intersection (or location on the construction site) with you, so we can be sure you’ll be prepared to answer questions about where all key parties were located just before the accident occurred. We will also go over any photos taken of you while still injured, of your damaged vehicle – or taken of you while you underwent rehabilitative care.
Our goal is not to help you develop “canned” answers to all likely questions posed by the defendant’s lawyer – but to help you have clear memories of what occurred so you can easily tell the truth without becoming confused.
We will remind you that simple answers or responses like “Yes,” “No,” “I’m not sure,” and “Can you please repeat the question?” are often the best ones you can provide. It’s always best to avoid giving out more information than has been requested – since opposing counsel may later quote your sworn testimony to try and impeach or question your honesty or memory during a later trial. We will also remind you to try and avoid answering questions using terms like “always” or “never” – especially regarding any physical impairments since the opposing counsel will try hard to later prove that you are exaggerating (or even lying) about these difficulties.
While the defendant’s lawyer is trying hard to obtain new, key information about your case from your testimony, s/he is also doing all that’s possible to determine how believable your testimony will be to a possible trial jury at a later date – and if it appears that you’ll be a cooperative witness. Your demeanor and ability to remain calm is important. If there are grounds to object to a question – we will quickly do so. By allowing yourself a brief pause before answering each question, you make this part of our job a bit easier.
During your preparation, we must make sure to help you answer highly specific questions about what’s often called the “mechanism of injury.” Stated simply, your case can only prove successful if you’re able, along with our support, to clearly describe exactly how you incurred each of your major injuries. We’ll often have some useful photos to help you – such as those taken of your vehicle after it was seriously damaged.
We’ll also help you learn how to describe how you were seated in your car when the painful impact occurred – and how each part of your body was then seriously harmed.
It will be crucial for this part of your testimony to remain consistent throughout the case. That’s why we’ll help you review the answers you gave us to turn in as part of the interrogatories (questions) sent to us by the defendant. We’ll also review pertinent “admissions” you may have helped us return to the defendant’s counsel as part of the discovery process.
Your lawyer will also describe for you how the deposition room will be set up and who you can expect to see there – besides your attorney. For example, there’s usually a court reporter taking down all your responses to questions from your own attorney – and then when you’re cross-examined by the defendant’s lawyer. Likewise, a videographer is also usually present.
You can be sure that the defendant’s lawyer will not only later be reviewing your answers – but also how well you presented yourself while being questioned. This is particularly true regarding difficult topics – such as all the pain you originally suffered – or about your remaining physical or psychological injuries. And don’t worry, we’ll follow a basic schedule, so that you get adequate restroom breaks, a chance to make a quick phone call — or meet very briefly with your attorney.
If you’ll simply concentrate on being honest and avoid volunteering added information that hasn’t been requested, you should do fine. Most of our clients find that their depositions go much more smoothly than they first guessed they might. You can fully count on our firm to be sure you’re properly prepared.
Dressing appropriately — and arriving on time — makes a very positive statement
We normally suggest that you dress for your deposition in a professional manner – much like you would for a job interview. You can also minimize your stress level by planning to arrive at the appointed location (frequently, our law firm conference room) at least 30 minutes early. This will allow you time to ask us any new questions that may have occurred to you – or to look back over key records regarding your injuries.
If you’ve been seriously hurt in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, you need to contact our New York City personal injury law firm. As noted above, we’ll fully investigate the facts of your case and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to cover all of your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and other losses.