Frequently Asked Questions

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  • 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.

  • Can you provide me with some deposition advice?

    An experienced, highly competent injury attorney, like those working for Shapiro & Appleton takes the time to review all of the main issues that are likely to come up in a deposition with their client, listens carefully to the client's version of events, and explains how an attorney may try to twist their words against them.

    Depending upon how serious the issues are in the case, we may spend hours meeting with a client to prepare them for a deposition. Words of wisdom include never lie, never think you can cover-up an issue that you personally believe is irrelevant to your present injuries, as it is up to your experienced injury attorney to learn what you think is irrelevant and then advise you of the law that applies or whether some legal privilege applies that can protect you from disclosing that information.

    This type of thing is exactly why you decided to hire an attorney so full disclosure is important in confidence as the attorney-client privilege protects certain kinds of disclosures that the law deems inadmissible in an injury case. Just don't make that decision in your mind without disclosing it to your attorney. Do not think that the other attorney may never find out about some pre-existing medical care that you kind of decided is not relevant. Real bad idea-you must cover with your personal injury attorney. We handle some high-stakes litigation involving serious and catastrophic injuries as well as the routine injury case. In some serious/catastrophic litigation it is not unusual for private investigators to stake out injured persons and we explain this to our clients, as the ramifications can be serious.
     

     

  • What is a deposition?

    For an injury lawsuit, a legal deposition is a formal process where the injured person testifies under oath. This usually means one of the parties (either the injured person's attorney or the defense or insurance attorney), assures that a licensed court reporter/stenographer is present to record the injured person's testimony, which then can be used in certain ways in the injury case.

    Every state and federal court specifies a written court procedure on exactly how a deposition can be conducted, and other provisions specify how it can later be used once it is typed up by a court reporter.

    Also, these written court rules specify that such a deposition can be videotaped and some court rules even provide that a deposition may in fact be videotaped and without a court stenographer present. Court reporters are highly trained and most states require licensure.
     

  • Does the court hire the court reporter?

    The "court reporter" is an independent licensed stenographer that is not an employee of the court system. However, some courts do employ court reporters, but those court reporters transcribe court hearings or trials. Depositions are normally not held at the courthouse but rather at any suitable conference room or an attorney's office conference room. In every city there are court reporting firms that have licensed court reporter stenographers on staff who are essentially independent contractors.

    An attorney usually calls up a court reporter for the area and asks that the court reporter cover a deposition and that court reporter is paid through a bill provided to the injured person's attorney or if the deposition is requested by the insurance lawyer or the defense lawyer, that lawyer is obligated to pay the appearance costs and fees for typing up each page of the deposition they order. Ultimately, no matter who wants a copy of the deposition transcribed, the court reporting company bills per page for the deposition transcript, and these days attorneys often receive both a hard copy and an e-mail copy of the deposition testimony of the witness. The longer the deposition, the more pages, which translates to more cost billed by the court reporter.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Can the other party ask about legal advice or discussions which took place between you and your lawyer?

    No. This is an example of protections under the the attorney-client privilege and normally an attorney will answer with an objection highlighting the attorney-client privilege. 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 North and South Carolina Accident Attorney 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.