How to Give a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case: by Florida Trial Lawyer Matt Powell

How to Give a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case: by Florida Trial Lawyer Matt Powell

A deposition is a statement taken of a party or a witness ,under oath, in front of a court reporter. Any statements made, may be used in court. It is one of the most important tools that lawyers use to gather evidence and information about a case. As a trial lawyer, almost everyone of my clients who is involved in litigation will be required to give a deposition. And in most cases, I will depose the person who we contend is at fault for causing damages or injuries to my client.

Here is some basic information about a deposition. In the deposition, there will be a court reporter whose job is to take down every single word that is said in the deposition. Sometimes the deposition will also be videotaped by a videographer.

My client will be asked a long series of multiple questions by the attorney representing the opposing party. In some cases, there may be more than one attorney, and each will have their turn to ask questions. The testimony will be taken down by the court reporter who will type it up and print it out in a booklet type form.

To help you prepare for your deposition, here are a few things I always tell my clients. Rule number one, tell the truth. This is the most basic rule and should never be taken lightly.

Additionally, here are four steps that are also important to understand. First you should always LISTEN to the question being asked to you very carefully and then Secondly, PAUSE. . . . PAUSE before you answer. The reason you want to pause is, one, you want to make sure that the attorney is through asking the question, two, it gives yourself an opportunity to make sure you understand the question, and three, it gives your attorney an opportunity to make an objection if one should be made. So do not answer the question too quickly and pause before you answer. After following these first two steps, then you can go on and number Three, ANSWER JUST THAT QUESTION. Then number Four: STOP TALKING. Often times, this is the most difficult part of the deposition because people want to explain all sorts of things in their answer, when quite often, an explanation is not requested or needed. If an explanation is needed, typically the attorney will ask for it or, at the end of the deposition, YOUR attorney may ask you to explain something further.
Also, if you do not understand a question, or it seems complex or compound with lots of parts, please ask the attorney to rephrase the question. The reason for this is that when your testimony is typed up into a booklet, the question will be very clear and your answer will be very clear. So if you did not fully understand the question and you guessed, then your answer may not be as accurate as you meant it to be.

Remember, you should take your time and you are not to be rushed. As a witness, you can set the pace of the deposition by listening to the question carefully, pausing, and then answering the question when YOU are ready. Also, you are allowed to take breaks if and when you need them. A deposition is not an endurance test.

Typically most depositions come in three phases. Phase one will be about your life BEFORE the accident or event that caused your injury. You will be asked all types of background questions like, tell me all the places where you worked, where you lived, where you went to school, all about your prior medical history, as well as who are all the doctors that you have seen in the past. If you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, been arrested, been in drug or alcohol rehabilitation. Or have you ever been divorced, used an alias name, filed tax returns for the past five years, or lied on an employment application.

You will certainly be asked you if you have ever made any other claims for personal injury or worker’s compensation. They will ask you to list all other prior injuries or hospitalizations. They may ask if you have ever been a victim of domestic violence, or if you have ever sued or been sued. They will ask you to explain how you selected the doctors that you have seen for this case. They may also ask if you have gone on any vacations or trips since the accident. In this background phase of your deposition, try to answer the questions without much elaboration. Keep it simple and straight forward.

Phase two of the deposition is typically about the FACTS of the accident or the event that caused your injury. In some cases, such as a rear-end motor vehicle crash, the facts of how the accident happened may speak for themselves. You really won’t have much to explain since you were facing forward looking out the windshield and you never saw the car that hit you before the impact. In this situation, your answers will be short and simple. However, in other cases that are more complex and the issue of liability is contested or in dispute, your version of how the accident happened may be critical to protecting your claim.
Video Rating: 5 / 5

Attorney Ben Glass discusses the formula for settling a personal injury case. Is it “twice medical bills” or is it “four times medical bills?”

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25 thoughts on “How to Give a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case: by Florida Trial Lawyer Matt Powell”

  1. Great video. Watched as part of lectures in my paralegal litigation class.
    Very straightforward, clearly presented, and logical. Thanks! Student in
    Chicago, IL.

  2. Does the defendant’s lawyer have the right to ask me the same question but
    worded differently? How do I handle this. I have my workers compensation
    deposition next month and I want to prepare as much as possible. What kind
    of personal questions are they allowed to ask? How personal are they
    allowed to get?

  3. Thanks for watching the video. I hope it helps people who are about to give
    a deposition so they might avoid some simple mistakes.

  4. There is certainly a difference between a formula and a methodology. Each
    case is different and this makes a great point about how juries may have a
    different perspective when they assign a monetary value to the claim.

  5. Here’s one of our most popular videos on figuring out the value of your car
    accident case

  6. Very good information. There are a lot of factors that come into play when
    evaluating a personal injury claim. Good discussion of the vast majority
    of these factors.

  7. I don’t know what kind i Need but certainly a well known experienced
    A newbie that’s on top of this mess

  8. Very good information. There are a lot of factors that come into play when
    evaluating a personal injury claim. Good discussion of the vast majority
    of these factors.

  9. Interesting… I wish I’d seen it before hiring a lawyer. 🙁 Thanks for
    posting and just ignore the morons commenting before me.

  10. There is a discrepancy between what an insurance company values an injury,
    what a lawyer thinks the market value is on said injury, and what you will
    get awarded.

  11. The truth is there’s no formula. I am asked this question by 95% of my new
    clients. I understand why – everyone wants to know what something is worth.
    Let’s be real – a client wants to know what they stand to gain. The thing
    is, until certain things have been done, your lawyer cannot really say. I
    would love to know what a case will be worth right away – it would make my
    job a lot easier! Until things like a client’s medical treatment is
    complete, you just can’t say. Good lawyers don’t guess.

  12. Gives the right advice – there is no formula – and then does go on to be
    real about what is involved. Does say things you probably don’t know! Just
    like a lawyer, his description has nothing to do with what he actually
    says. Good advertising technique, but if you are looking for a “formula”
    don’t go here.

  13. 12:53 seconds for that? i would guess you could call that self indulgent.
    you could have done that in 60 seconds.

  14. It’s hardly ever a good idea for someone to settle a personal injury case
    on their own. The real hard reality of this is there is no formula, and the
    appropriate settlement for the client will depend on the circumstances
    surrounding their case.

  15. even with no Formula someone should know the answer to this ? has a
    Settlement gone up with in the past 5 years a fast Settlement 5 years ago
    might be only $500 now it might be $750 reson is everything goes up cost of
    living goes up why should a fast Settlement not go up botton line is
    everything go up you pay more for car (in) or even there is more people in
    the world if we kill a few of the people make room to walk around no one
    would get Injury even if car (ins) goes down there is more toda

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