If you’ve suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, it may be helpful to understand some of the basic elements of personal injury lawsuits. Personal injury lawsuits include a process called discovery, which is when your personal injury lawyer is able to use court procedures to obtain evidence from the other party involved in a lawsuit.
The discovery process consists of a number of elements, including the taking of depositions. Depositions involve questioning a person under oath in front of a skilled court reporter. In many personal injury cases, the person alleged to be responsible for causing an accident is subject to a deposition.
The questions asked during a deposition depend on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Nonetheless, there are usually three key questions that should be asked of the principal defendant in a personal injury case.
Keep in mind that when discussing the three primary questions raised in a personal injury deposition, you are considering three lines of questioning. Although the rules of evidence and procedures in depositions are somewhat relaxed, they are not entirely set aside. Therefore, questions should be structured in a manner similar to the way they would be presented in a court hearing or trial.
- What were you doing immediately prior to the accident?
An important question to ask the defendant is what he or she was doing immediately prior to the accident. For example, if the matter at issue in a personal injury case is an automobile collision, knowing whether the potentially liable party was driving from a tavern or nightclub may be a crucial fact.
On the other hand, the comings and goings of the person who caused an accident are typically not that blatant, but can still be flushed out in a deposition and then subjected to further discovery. Consider the case of a car collision once again:
During a deposition, it is learned that the driver said to have caused the collision was coming home from work. Proper follow-up questioning might reveal that this individual had just put in a stressful 12-hour shift in a hospital and was extremely exhausted.
- Can you outline your work history or professional background?
Questioning a defendant’s work history or professional background may be another key line of questioning. At first, you might consider this rather perfunctory. However, where an individual works and what they do might provide insight into who they are as a person.
For example, if a person is constantly changing jobs, this may reveal important information about that individual. It might even demonstrate an underlying mental health or substance abuse issue that renders it difficult for one to maintain a job.
- Who have you spoken with about the accident?
Identifying those outside of the lawsuit who know about an accident may be crucial. Through this line of questioning, it may become apparent whether contradictory statements have been made to different people. Determining whether or not a defendant has made contradictory statements may be invaluable to the plaintiff’s case. Oftentimes, a person thought to have caused an accident will admit things to friends and family members that may be highly detrimental to his or her own interests.
Due to the importance and complexity of depositions, the need for a skilled, experienced attorney in a personal injury case becomes all the more apparent. An injured person should protect their best interest with representation from a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Capital Reporting Company for their insight into personal injury depositions.