Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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What to expect in your Personal Injury Deposition - part I

Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012 by Chris Thayer

A common procedure in almost every personal injury lawsuit is to have the defendant’s attorney (typically hired by an insurance company) take your deposition. This is a process where the attorney will ask you questions with a court reporter present. Depositions typically take place in an attorney’s conference room. The court reporter will swear you in, just as if you were on the witness stand in court and will transcribe word for word all of the questions, your answers, and any objections by your attorney.

I usually spend several hours working with my client prior to their deposition. This public forum (my blog) is not a place to include detailed advice about how to handle a deposition, but I will provide a few tips, and I intend to revisit this topic from time to time with additional pointers.

Depositions allow a defendant to find out information about your background, including your medical and employment history, as well as how your personal injuries may have affected your life. The defendant’s attorney will tell you that they are not there to trick you and “all I want is information”. That is not entirely true - they do want information, but what they want is information that will arguably harm or reduce the value of your case.

There are two pieces of basic advice that I tell all my clients before they have their deposition taken:

(1) BE PREPARED. Review medical records, accident reports and other records to refresh your memory about your injuries, treatment and the general overall timeline. This will also help you feel less anxious, as you won’t be worried about forgetting something, and will reduce the risk you will answer a question incorrectly - which defendant may try to use against you later if you attempt to correct the mistake. I usually meet with my client several days before their deposition and spend a few hours with them helping them prepare for the likely questions.

(2) TELL THE TRUTH. This seems very obvious, but it is worth emphasizing. The scope of potential questions that can come up in a deposition are quite broad, and to the average layperson at times seem like they are entirely unrelated to your actual claim. You may be embarassed or concerned about something that happened in your past that you would rather not talk about. Even though it may be entirely unrelated to the underlying accident, it may still come up in your deposition. You are far far better off to answer honestly and just deal with the issue head on. If you lie about something, not only are you potentially perjuring yourself, but you run the risk of doing far more damage to your claim if/when the truth comes out. You can anticipate that the defense will make a huge issue about this - and attack your credibility. Even what a lay person might consider a “little white lie” can have huge consequences. Your best option is to discuss all “skeletons” in your closet with your attorney before the deposition. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to advise you on how best to answer such questions.