The purpose of a lawsuit is to get to the truth of a circumstance that one party (the plaintiff) claims caused him or her to suffer harm. In a civil lawsuit (such as a product liability case), there is a stage before the trial known as discovery. During the discovery stage, each party can request documents and information from other parties involved in the lawsuit in an attempt to “discover” facts that are relevant to the case.
One method of obtaining relevant information from another party is what is generally called a “deposition.” A deposition is an in-person question-and-answer session. In a product liability lawsuit, it is very likely that the plaintiff will have to attend, and give sworn testimony under oath at, a deposition.
During your deposition, the lawyer representing the defendant (the party you are suing) will ask you questions about your use of the defendant’s product (which you claim was defective and dangerous), your injuries, and the monetary value of your injuries. You will be expected to answer all questions fully and honestly, unless your lawyer directs you not to answer a question.
Your lawyer will, of course, be with you through the deposition. You will prepare with your lawyer in advance of the session. Every lawyer gives his or her clients different advice about giving testimony at a deposition. It would not be possible to give specific advice here, nor would it be appropriate. But you can be sure that you will not go into a deposition unprepared.
A deposition is a serious thing, but it need not be at all scary. A deposition is not anything like a police interrogation like you might have seen on TV. A deposition typically takes place in a comfortable setting, such as one party’s lawyer’s office. You will usually be able to take as many breaks to use a bathroom or get something to eat or drink or just stand up and stretch as you need or want.
While the deposition is the most commonly used discovery “device,” there are others as well that might require you to answer questions, although not in person. The defendant might serve “interrogatories” (written questions) and/or “requests for admission.” You would have a certain number of days (often 30) to send back written responses, which your lawyer will prepare with your help.
The thought of having to answer questions—especially those posed by the party who is to blame—can make you uncomfortable. This is understandable. The process isn’t familiar to you. The lawyers of the Rottenstein Law Group know that victims of dangerous products have to deal with enough uncertainty and fear—more than enough. That’s why we will be with you at all times—available to answer your questions and address your concerns whenever you have them. You’ll never feel like you’ve been forgotten or left alone. You’ve taken enough. We’ll take it from here.