• Kenneth Powell

Will I Need to Get My Deposition Taken in a Slip and Fall Case?

If a person is in any way a part of a slip and fall litigation, whether as the injured party, a witness, or a property owner, they may have to give a deposition. If that happens, it is imperative to prepare for all the questions that one might have to answer.

From what a deposition is to what it looks like in such cases, here are all the facts that one ought to know.


Deposition Defined

Deposition Defined


In legal terms, depositions are defined as sworn testimonies that a person gives outside of court. Lawyers depose parties (deponents) in order to collect evidence as part of the discovery process. In most cases, lawyers cannot use any information the parties reveal in a trial, as the court sees it as hearsay.

All parties in a case can initiate and supervise depositions. In addition, they are usually allowed to be present at a hearing like this, especially lawyers.

While attorneys have the right to coach their clients for court, they cannot do the same for depositions. The parties present can question the deponent, and their lawyer has almost no objection rights.

Depositions are usually oral. A lawyer asks the deponent questions, and they answer. In most cases, a video camera records the process as well.

Besides oral, depositions can also be written. This type of testimony is suitable for those who are, for any reason, unable to speak. The deposition initiator submits the question in advance, and the deponent answers them in written form. Since oral depositions have a better success rate, attorneys opt for those whenever possible.


Is a Deposition Always Necessary?


The short answer is no; depositions aren’t legally required in slip and fall cases. However, all parties commonly do get deposed. Also, the attorneys prefer to perform depositions because they get to hear everyone’s side and introduce all witnesses.

Since not many slip and fall claims actually go to court, depositions can help the parties negotiate settlements. Thus, these hearings are a pivotal part of the process.

Lawyers have the right to depose the defendant, the plaintiff, and any witnesses. However, the process is different for all three parties.


Plaintiff


Depositions are often the first instances when the plaintiff gets to meet the defense legal team. The lawyer is there to assess the witness, hear their side of the story, and get all the information they need to build the case.

There are a few sets of questions that plaintiffs might have to answer at depositions. One group consists of background questions, and they refer to the plaintiff’s family, education, relationships, and so on.

While these inquiries might not seem important in slip and fall lawsuits, they still have an essential role. Attorneys usually ask them to make the deponent uncomfortable, which can result in a weaker or inconsistent testimony.

Afterward, lawyers prefer to discuss the plaintiff’s medical history. The inquiries can get quite invasive because the attorney hopes to reveal a pattern of lawsuits. They might also want to show that the person’s medical condition caused the injury rather than the slip and fall itself.

Finally, the parties discuss the accident. At this point, lawyers ask a lot of questions, including numerous small details about the event. Such details include, for example, how the place where the fall occurred looks, what the person was wearing at the time of the accident, etc.

Most importantly, if the plaintiff cannot recall particular details, the attorney might try to prove that the entire lawsuit is based on false memory. In addition, they might push for a lower settlement in such a case.


Defendant


The process is slightly different when the defendant is the one giving the deposition. They usually have to answer questions about the maintenance of the estate. By asking them for such details, the lawyer aims to show that the defendant was aware of the hazardous conditions and did nothing to rectify them. If such is the case, they are liable for any accidents that happen on their property. Meanwhile, if you were injured by slipping or falling on a sidewalk, learn who is liable for a sidewalk slip and fall accident.


For instances when the person administered alcohol to the victim of a slip and fall, social host liability comes in. Find out if Missouri does have a social host liability law.

Moreover, the slip and fall attorney in St Louis MO will try to determine if others have suffered similar accidents before. Achieving such a feat would help increase the settlement offer, which is the attorney’s primary goal.


Witness


In most cases, both sides can depose all present witnesses. The defendant’s lawyer will try to see if the witness shows any incline toward the plaintiff. On the other hand, the other party may ask for the full story from the witness’s point of view, hoping it would increase the settlement offer.