Perhaps the most important part of the discovery process is conducting depositions. A deposition is the taking of sworn testimony of an individual, outside of court and prior to trial, to obtain information that may be useful in a particular case. Statements made in a deposition are made under oath, and may be used in the filing of motions and at trial.
Both parties are permitted to depose individuals during the discovery process. Deponents (the individuals answering questions at a deposition) may be opposing parties, witnesses, subject matter experts, or any other person who can provide useful information.
As the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, you should expect to be deposed by opposing counsel. Prior to your deposition, your attorney will speak to you about what you should expect.
When you are deposed, opposing counsel will ask you many questions that span an array of subjects. Typically, depositions begin with questions relating to your identity, background, education, and employment. While some of the questions may seem irrelevant to you, they are generally permissible and typically asked. Parties are entitled to only one deposition per deponent, so attorneys tend to ask all conceivably useful questions.
Depositions are question and answer sessions. This means that when you are deposed you are not required to speak unless you are asked a question. Prior to your deposition, your attorney will remind you that your only obligation is to provide answers to the questions asked.
During deposition, your attorney will be with you. In certain circumstances, your attorney will object to questions asked by opposing counsel. Unless specifically directed not to answer, you will be required to answer questions even when an objection is raised. This is a common occurrence and should not alarm you.
While being deposed is intimidating for some, remember that your attorney will also be given the opportunity to depose defendants, witnesses, and experts in your lawsuit. Subjecting defendants and witnesses to scrutiny is essential to establishing all facts in your favor.
Ordinarily it is not necessary for a plaintiff to be present when their attorney deposes opposing parties or witnesses.