Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Who can be present at my deposition?

    Routinely, those allowed include the parties to the case, their attorneys, a party's claims adjuster or corporate representative, and a court reporter are the individuals present at a deposition. Other individuals can be present if everyone consents. The deposition is usually done in a conference room at a law firm.

  • How can the opposing party use my deposition against me?

    Keep in mind, every word you say is typed up into a transcript, which is a written record of your statements. This means each and every word can and may be used against you in a civil injury trial. If the case cannot be settled, and we imagine that the case finally gets before a jury, the injured person puts on all of their witnesses and evidence prior to the party being sued. When the time arrives for the defense lawyer to present evidence and witnesses, that defense/insurance lawyer can stand up in front of the jury at one time they choose and read passages or individual questions and answers from your prior court deposition--even if you are not actually on the witness stand testifying!

    In other words, that lawyer can simply pick parts of your deposition out and read them to the jury, even if you're not testifying at that time. That's pretty powerful use of the deposition but it's only any good if the insurance lawyer catches you in some unbelievable testimony.

    Defense attorneys don't stand up and read parts of your deposition that reinforces how honest you are and how serious your injuries are! They only want to read something that makes fun of you or seeks to paint you as a liar. Here I should note that if the company's representative makes unbelievable statements or bald-faced lies, your injury attorney has the same rights to read parts of that company representative's testimony to a jury during the presentation of all of the evidence supporting your injury case.

  • How important is my deposition?

    It's important, but it's not a serious as being interrogated by the FBI for a criminal matter. Nevertheless, your testimony can be used at trial or any hearing just like if you were sitting in the witness chair testifying at a trial. Though, some states do have a limitation on whether a deposition can be used or filed as part of a hearing in advance of a trial and those complicated rules are beyond the scope of this outline.

    The insurance lawyer or defense lawyer is keenly interested in whether your testimony holds water, is believable, and the biggest mission of the lawyer on the other side of the case is to try to show that you are not a good witness, are a liar, or are not sure about facts that you say support your case. The deposition process is extremely important and valuable to the court system because not only must you as the injured person be believable, but we will take the deposition of the person that caused your injuries or corporate representative of a company that caused your injuries and we are also entitled to show that the "defendant" driver, or company officials cannot be believed or that their conduct was careless. It's an equal opportunity truth seeking device for both the injured person and that person or company being sued for careless or negligent conduct.

  • What are interrogatories and how can they be used against me?

     

     

    Interrogatories are questions, plain and simple. Why do attorneys call these questions interrogatories anyway? Leave it to lawyers to have a six syllable word titled "interrogatories" instead of just calling them "questions."

    In any case, a set of interrogatories includes a series of questions where one party in a civil lawsuit can require that another party answer the questions under oath. This means you need to answer honestly and fully. If you withold information in a set of interrogatories, the opposing attorneys will use it at trial to try and discredit your claim.

     

     

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

  • Can the other party ask about legal advice or conversations between you and your attorney?

    No, absolutely not. Conversations between you and your lawyer fall under the attorney-client privilege and normally an attorney will answer with an objection asserting the attorney-client privilege if the opposition tries to interogate you in this area. It would be up to the judge in the case to overrule this type of privilege.

    There are a number of other special privileges that protect information. Typically, when a party sends a set of interrogatories to our client, we send the pleading on to our client and explain to them that they should answer all of the questions that deal with factual matterslegal issue.
     

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

  • What is the significance of interrogatories in a lawsuit?

    An important aspect of interrogatories is that the other party's lawyer can stand up in court and show a jury the interrogatories/question and a client's answer so long as the attorney notifies the court that it intends to make this information known to a jury. Also, interrogatories, because you answer then under oath, are essentially testimony of a party. When a party gives an answer under oath it is essentially stating a client position on that point and it is hard to change that testimony in the future.

    Of course, circumstances can change. For example, a physical condition can grow worse, and if the condition or situation changes, it is appropriate to file a supplemental answer notifying the other party of the additional or supplemental information. In some cases, we may file 10 to 15 times supplemental answers on behalf of a client, updating information.

    Especially because interrogatories may be read to a jury, any attorney must be careful and review all answers with a client before they are placed under oath. I've had the experience of several clients not fully disclosing information about a prior injury or a prior condition that they didn't think was relevant-- and did not want to tell me about-- so they did not feel it needed to be listed. Once I have reviewed all of the information with the client, I've convinced the client that under the law they must provide the information even though they don't believe it is relevant.

    The test in virtually every state and federal court is that if the information may in any way lead the opposite party to some relevant point in the case, it must be disclosed. It is clearly good legal advice to a client to always disclose what could possibly be required because simply giving the answer under oath in an interrogatory, in no way means that the information could be utilized at trial with a jury.

    Simply put, there is a lot of information in injury litigation that must be disclosed, but there is a much tighter requirement about what evidence is admissible to a jury and a judge will exclude all kinds of things that might have been disclosed in the interrogatory answers, but are later ruled not admissible at trial. A perfect example would be disclosing that a client was in a prior car accident 15 years ago and suffered personal injuries.


    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

  • Can I do additional rehab that my doctor hasn't recommended but I think may help in the healing process?

    We strongly recommend to any injured individual that they do not attempt physical activities inconsistent with their doctors restrictions. All sorts of issues relating to your physical condition, like whether you suffered any pre-existing condition of relevance, can arise in a deposition.

    If you are out of work from a serious injury, there will likely be an inquiry about all of your prior jobs and employment and you must disclose to your lawyer if you were fired for many prior position and why, and you must disclose any and all prior injury related claims that you have ever filed whether you believe they are relevant or not.

    We deal with lawyers that subpoena high school transcripts, division of motor vehicle driving records, other background checks etc.
     

    About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton law firm is simple -"All we do is injury law." We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you'd like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at 1-800-752-0042.

  • Is the FELA different from worker's compensation or are they similar?

    The FELA is different from workers compensation. Workers compensation is a no-fault system, that allows recovery of only a specific percentage of lost wages and payment of medical bills, but does not allow any lawsuit or jury trial against an employer.  A worker can recover damages even if they are at fault. 

    The FELA, on the other hand, is far better in some ways because it allows no ceiling or cap on the amount of damages that may be recovered. Though, it follows common-law negligence principles and requires that a worker prove or one or more of the following:


    1. If the injury to the worker is a result of negligence or carelessness of any officer, agent or employee of the railroad, or the worker's injury is caused by any defect in the cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, or any other equipment of the railroad, the employee may recover damages;


    2. If the worker is hurt as a result of a railroad violation of a relevant safety statute, either state or federal, the worker is entitled to recover damages;


     

  • What exactly is the FELA?

    FELA is the acronym of the Federal Employers Liability Act. It is a federal law that protects and applies to railroad workers hurt on the job and working in interstate commerce. It is the exclusive remedy for railroad workers who are injured on the job as far as claims against their own railroad employer. 

    The FELA covers accidents, diseases, and illnesses arising from the railroad workplace, or occurring at places or at times that are part of the worker's job.

  • What exactly is a wrongful death claim?

    A wrongful death claim can be filed when the victim was killed as a result of negligence, or another type of unjust action by an individual or entity being sued, and the victim's survivors are entitled to damages as a result of the improper conduct/negligence.

    Basically, a wrongful death claim is just a negligence lawsuit in which an individual died as the result from an injury.