A deposition occurs when the lawyer for a party takes your testimony while you are under oath, just like you would be in court. Your attorney will typically take the deposition of the other party either before or after your deposition is taken. In Oregon, the adverse party is allowed to ask you common deposition questions about any matter that is “not privileged, which is relevant to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party.” Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure (ORCP 36 B1). This allows the other side a lot of leeway to ask you questions relating to your case.
At the deposition a court reporter will record all questions and answers and will later make a written copy to distribute to both sides.
If your case goes to trial and if your testimony at trial differs from your testimony during the deposition, the other lawyer will use your deposition to impeach you. A common dialogue is to ask you – in front of the jury – whether your under-oath testimony at the deposition was untruthful, or whether you are not telling the truth at trial.
Common Deposition Questions
Depending on the claims you made in your personal injury case, deposition questions can typically be grouped into 4 to 5 categories:
- Background information. This includes detailed questions about places you have lived, your work history, your education, prior injury claims, your criminal history, etc.
- Your physical condition before your injury compared to after. This includes the various activities you used to participate in compared to present activities, doctors you have treated with, prior hospital stays, prior emergency room visits, and your current status.
- In-depth details about how you were injured. In an auto accident case you will be asked very specific questions leading up to how the accident happened, the speed of the involved vehicles, what you saw, whether there were witnesses and any statements they made, statements made by you at the accident scene, the forces of impact, and damage to the vehicles.
- Specific details about your injuries, including when you first realized you were injured, where you suffered pain, the extent of your pain, and the treatment you received.
- If you make a claim for loss of future earning capacity, you will be subjected to many questions about your employment history, including providing tax returns and having to answer detailed questions about your employment. An experienced attorney will thoroughly prepare you for your deposition.