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What is a Personal Injury Deposition in Des Moines?


Personal injury lawsuits have a fact-gathering phase called discovery. A deposition is a common part of discovery in Iowa, including in Des Moines personal injury cases. At Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C., we have helped clients prepare for and participate in depositions for their personal injury cases. We will make sure you know what to expect and sit right beside you as you answer questions.

In this post, our Des Moines personal injury attorneys explain depositions in more depth and encourage you to reach out to our firm at any time to talk with us about your injuries. With offices in Iowa City and Waterloo, we can travel to meet with anyone where circumstances allow and review your legal right to seek compensation.

What is the Purpose of a Deposition?

A deposition is a technique for uncovering information to use in a personal injury lawsuit. You have information in your possession which the other side needs. The defendant can request that you sit for a deposition where you answer questions under oath.

We can also request that the defendant sit for a deposition. This will help us uncover evidence in their possession.

In rare situations, deposition testimony might be introduced later at trial. For example, a witness might die before a trial, so the judge might allow in deposition testimony.

Where Does a Deposition Take Place?

We usually hold depositions in a conference room at a law firm. The defendant’s lawyer is there, along with you and your attorney. There should be a court reporter.

Judges usually do not attend depositions. However, if a question is inappropriate, we object so that it is on the record. A judge might later look at the question and agree it wasn’t appropriate, so the question and answer get struck.

What Questions Are Asked?

Depositions can cover a lot of ground, depending on the lawyer running it. In a personal injury case, the most common questions involve:

  • What happened before the accident that injured you. What were you doing? Were you on your phone? Did you sleep well the night before?
  • What you remember about the accident. How did it happen? Did you immediately feel pain? Did someone observe the accident? What is their name?
  • Your injuries and treatment. Did you go to the hospital? What injuries were you diagnosed with? Have you attended treatment? How much pain do you feel? Is it constant?

This is a general overview. Essentially, the other side wants to know your perspective on the accident, as well as the effects.

Is There a Strategy to Depositions?

Yes. Defense lawyers want to uncover information that is useful for them. For example, they might dig to find out whether you aren’t really as injured as you claim. That’s why they might ask many questions about pain, whether you can participate in hobbies, and so on.

Another issue is your own comparative negligence. If you were at least partially responsible for the accident, they can reduce the compensation they pay. Here is an example. You might have been involved in a crash out on the highway. The other side wants to know if you were looking at your phone or perhaps distracted by a passenger or child in the seconds right before the collision. If so, they can argue your negligence is partly to blame for the accident. That will help them reduce what they pay in compensation.

Under Iowa Code § 668.3, you might not receive anything if you are more to blame than the defendant for the accident. Defendants would like nothing better than for you to blurt out that you were careless or reckless.

Should I answer questions truthfully?

Yes. You answer questions under oath. A court reporter will also record your answers, or your deposition might be recorded by video.

We recommend you also:

  • Speak clearly. Don’t mumble or answer nonverbally by nodding or shaking your head.
  • Only answer the question asked. There is no reason to volunteer unnecessary information, so listen closely to the question.
  • Don’t answer until you understand the question. Ask for clarification, if necessary. Otherwise, you might answer the wrong question or volunteer something you shouldn’t.
  • Avoid sarcasm. You might be annoyed with the lawyer asking the question. You should take a deep breath to calm yourself down before answering. Never get into a tit-for-tat with the lawyer.
  • Ask for a break, if you need one. Depositions can drag on for several hours, and you should ask to use the bathroom or get a drink, if you need one.

Will I have a deposition in my case?

Maybe not. At Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C., we can settle most of our cases. That makes a trial unnecessary. But you might have to give a deposition if the defense digs in and refuses to settle.

Our personal injury lawyers in Des Moines work closely with our clients to prepare for a deposition. We might do a “dry run” and pepper you with likely questions to get you comfortable with the process. We can then review your answers and ensure you are being accurate but not saying anything that isn’t true.

Depositions are nothing to fear. They are a common tool in discovery. Even if the defense lawyer tries to trip you up, we will be seated right beside you. We can object to unfair or confusing questions, and have that objection on the record. A judge might later decide a question was inappropriate and not let the defense use the question and answer.

Call Us Now

At Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C., we help accident victims like you seek financial compensation and justice after an accident. We have deep experience with all types of motor vehicle collisions, as well as slip and falls and other personal injury cases. If you have any questions, or if you want to learn more about our experience, give us a call. We are available 24/7 for our clients and will do everything possible to win your case.