What is a “deposition?

After your lawyer has started a lawsuit, the next step is to prepare a “Bill of Particulars'” a document that provides all of the details of your accident lawsuit.  Your exact injuries (written in medical language and taken from your medical records, the amount of money that you have lost as a result of the accident (e.g., lost wages, miscellaneous expenses, doctor bills not covered by insurance), the names and addresses of all doctors, hospitals, therapists, etc., and other information that is relevant to your claim.


The next step is to ask the Court for a conference.  At this conference (called a “Preliminary Conference”), both sides are given a list of things to do before trial.  This part of the lawsuit is called “Discovery.”


During discovery, you will be asked to answer questions of the opposing attorney.  Your lawyer will also have  the right to ask questions of the defendant. This process of “question / answer” is known as a “deposition.”  It is a way of knowing the facts before trial so the lawyers may not be surprised by the testimony of each witness.


Here are a few suggestions regarding the preparation of your “deposition”:

1) Dress neatly, but do not wear expensive clothing.  Dressing neatly shows respect, but dressing in expensive clothes send a message that you have money and that this claim may not be so significant to you.


2) Do not argue with the attorney.  The opposing lawyer is there to do his or her job.  They are usually not aggressive in questioning.  Sometimes the questions may seem innocuous, but they need to know all of the fine points.  They prepare a report for their insurance company after you have given testimony.  If you show respect (and dress neatly – SEE ABOVE), they will write that in their report.


3) Answer the questions directly and do not guess.  If the question can be answered with a “yes” or “no,” then simply respond that way. If you can answer in a few words, then please do so.  “Less is more.” The more that you volunteer, the more information may be misconstrued later.


4) Part 1 of a Deposition is your background – “Who are you?” Your marital status, your family life, your education, your employment, etc.


5) Part 2 of a Deposition is about “Liability,” i.e., who was at fault? Describe the accident and keep it simple. If you can approximate distance, time, etc, then you must do do.  Do not guess.  Be sure that your lawyer has spent time with you before the deposition.  Usually the same day preparation is best (since it will be in your short term memory at the time of your testimony). Sometimes it is necessary to prepare multiple times (depending on the complexity of your case).


6) Part 3 of a Deposition is about “Damages'” i.e., how your were injured, your pain and suffering, and your economic loss.  It may also involve your spouse’s suffering (due to your injuries).  You will need to know the names of your doctors, therapists, etc. and types of treatment.  You will need to remember the approximate dates of treatment, as well as the frequency of your treatment.


If you have any questions, please call my office and I will try to respond to your questions.  I am an experienced lawyer and have been helping injured persons for over 25 years.


Charles DeStefano

718 390 0580

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