Meaning, Purpose, and Process for a Personal Injury Deposition in NJ
A New Jersey personal injury case can involve many steps before and during the trial. Read on to learn more about what a deposition is, and how the process unfolds in New Jersey civil courts.
What does a Deposition Mean?
In a personal injury case or any other civil court case, a deposition is a legal testimony that occurs out of court. The purpose of a deposition is to support the legal team of both sides in finding out more information about the case, determining the strength of the other side’s argument, and identifying avenues to follow up on in service of winning the case. A deposition occurs during the pre-trial information-gathering process called the discovery process. While a deposition happens out of court, the person giving testimony – the deponent – is under oath, and the information gathered is part of the legal record. A court reporter will almost certainly be present to record the testimony.
Deposition Participants in a Personal Injury Case
The predominant individual involved in a pre-trial deposition is the person that has been called to testify to provide information related to the case, called a deponent. It is legally acceptable for either the plaintiff’s or defendant’s legal team to ask questions to and request the testimony of any person who is reasonably related to the incident at hand. They can be called by subpoena and are therefore legally required to participate in the deposition.
Other individuals present at the deposition are the plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyers; each may ask questions to the deponent to gain further clarity on the specifics of the case and meet a number of additional information-based agendas the legal teams have in service of preparing their best argument.
Additionally, a person who is qualified to administer oaths is present, as the deponent will be testifying under oath. Also, a court reporter is often present to record the proceedings for the legal record, though the hearing may be recorded electronically in place of having a person there to fulfill that role.
Main Purposes of a Personal Injury Deposition
There are a number of purposes of a deposition in a New Jersey personal injury case. Ultimately, for both parties’ legal teams, the deposition is an information-gathering opportunity to test the strength of their case. The plaintiff’s and defendant’s personal injury lawyers will be looking to find additional information about the case that will guide their trial preparations. In addition, they are looking at the strength of the deponent as a person to give testimony at the trial. Will the person be a supportive witness for their case based on their credibility and the solidity of their testimony? As such, a deposition hearing provides both legal teams with not only information regarding the case that will help them develop their argument as to their party’s strengths, but they also determine the feasibility of calling the deponent to testify during the trial.
What Happens During Depositions in NJ?
During a deposition, after the deponent has been sworn in, each party’s side will have the opportunity to ask the deponent questions. The plaintiff’s lawyer will ask questions oriented toward gathering information and proof that the defendant was responsible for their client’s injury. The defendant’s lawyer will be asking the deponent question oriented toward developing their case of their client’s absence of legal fault in the plaintiff’s injury.
How Long Does it Take for a Deposition?
Each deposition is different, but generally, a deposition will last between 90 minutes and three hours. If, however, either party’s law team has extensive questions for the deponent, the deposition could go on for hours or even require two days to complete.
Understanding Exhibits in Deposition Cases
In depositions, exhibits are documents legally submitted into evidence that may be reviewed during a deposition. They will likely be used as evidence in the trial, and a deponent is often asked to speak to an exhibit entered into evidence during a deposition, whether it is a document, a photograph, or some other piece of evidence.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Prepare for a Deposition in My Personal Injury Case?
Being prepared for a deposition is essential. For this reason, having the support of a personal injury lawyer when you have been summoned to testify in a deposition is imperative. A personal injury lawyer will help you prepare for your deposition by thoroughly explaining the process and providing invaluable tips on how to conduct your testimony. For example, an experienced lawyer will counsel you to speak specifically to the questions asked and not volunteer any additional information, as well as make sure you are 100 percent clear about the question before answering. In addition, they will advise you to be fully familiar with a document and all of its elements before speaking to it under oath. You have the right to take your time, be silent, and gather your clarity before answering any questions. You also have the right to ask for clarification if you are not sure exactly what is being asked so that you do not accidentally incriminate yourself or provide information that was not asked, but that opens a can of additional questioning. Getting the support of a personal injury lawyer to prepare for a deposition and practice answering questions that will likely be asked is essential for this aspect of the pre-trial discovery process.
Contact a Mercer County Injury Lawyer to Prepare for Your Personal Injury Deposition in New Jersey
Have you been summoned to testify in a pre-trial deposition? We thoroughly engage and inform clients in Pennington, Hamilton, Trenton, Ewing, Lawrence, Carteret, and towns in Mercer County and Middlesex County to help them prepare for their deposition and the personal injury trial ahead.
At Cohen & Riechelson, we know the impact of solid deposition testimony and the importance of extensive deposition preparation. Contact us at (609) 528-2596 for a free confidential consultation to go over your case and learn how we can help you prepare for your deposition and trial.