Category Archives: How-To’s

Injury step by step how-to’s created to guide injured victims with basic information on possible steps necessary for financial recovery.

Giving a Deposition: The Basics

Your lawyer’s office just notified you that you have to give a deposition for your lawsuit.  No matter how you find out – by phone call or formal written notice – learning that you have to give a deposition is enough to make anyone’s heart skip a beat.  Knowing more about depositions, along with some simple do’s and don’ts, can help ease your anxiety.  Talk with your lawyer about the specifics of your case, but read on for some help with the basics:  what a deposition is, why you have to give one, and what you should say and do in your deposition.

What is a deposition?

A deposition is a formal question and answer session conducted before trial, about facts and opinions involved in a lawsuit.  If you are the person giving the answers, you are called the “deponent.”  Lawyers for the other parties in the case will ask the questions.  You will be under oath, just like in court.  Questions and answers are recorded word for word by a court reporter, and sometimes, on video.

Why do they want to take my deposition?

Lawyers take depositions for three basic reasons:

1. Gathering Information

Before taking a deposition, both sides in a lawsuit will gather as much information about the case as possible.  For example, in a personal injury case involving a car crash, the lawyers will already have police reports, insurance records, medical and employment records, and witness statements.  These records, however, don’t tell the whole story.  The lawyers asking the questions want to fill in gaps in the written record, and more importantly, discover new information that might be important to the case.  Their questions will be designed to get this information.

2. Identifying Inconsistencies and Nailing Down Facts

The lawyers want to learn if the story you will tell in court is consistent with the written records they already have.  If your story is consistent, it makes your claims look legitimate and helps your case.  An inconsistent story isn’t reliable and hurts your case.   For example, if a person brings a lawsuit for injuries she got in a car crash, and she testifies in her deposition that she hurt her shoulder in the wreck, her case is stronger if her medical records show she reported shoulder pain in the emergency room right after the crash.  On the other hand, if she complains of excruciating shoulder pain in her deposition and says it’s related to the wreck, but her records show no reports of shoulder pain until after she had a work injury six months after the crash, her claim is weaker.

The lawyers also want to make sure the story told in the deposition is the same one they will hear at trial.  Because you are under oath when you give a deposition, you are essentially saying, “I swear it is the truth that . . .” before every answer you give.  If you change your answer to the same question later on, the lawyer will be sure to say, “When you gave your deposition, you swore your answer was the truth.  Now your answer is different.  Why should we believe what you say when your ‘truthful’ answer changes over time?”  Stories that change over time are perceived as unreliable and untruthful.

3. Sizing up the Witness

Watching how a witness listens, answers questions, and behaves under the pressure of a deposition tells the lawyers in the case whether a witness is likeable and believable.  A likeable, believable witness adds value to a case, but an unpleasant, untrustworthy witness makes a case harder to win.

Top Five Tips for Giving a Good Deposition

Now that you know why you’re giving a deposition, how can you make sure you do it well?  Talk to your lawyer about what to expect in your particular case, but keep these five tips in mind.

1. Listen to the question and make sure you understand it before you answer.

Remember, you are saying, “I swear it is the truth that . . .” before every answer you give.  If you don’t understand what the lawyer is asking (which it happens a lot), you can say, “I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking.  Could you ask it a different way?”

2. Don’t guess at answers.

If “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” is the truth, it is an acceptable answer.  For example, if you are asked how fast the other car was going when it hit yours, and you don’t know for sure, you can say, “I don’t know.”  It’s the truth.

3. Don’t volunteer information.

The lawyer’s job is to ask the questions.  Your job is to answer the question that is asked, not a different question.  The lawyer wants to find out information that helps her case and hurts yours.  So, if the lawyer asks, “Have you ever been hurt on the job?” and you have not been hurt on the job, your answer should be, “No.”  Your answer should not be, “No, but I did hurt myself playing basketball at the Y after work.”

4. Look the part.

Dress neatly and conservatively for your deposition.  You don’t have to “dress up” unless that’s normal and comfortable for you, but you should look like a dependable, trustworthy person, even to the most judgmental person you can imagine.

5. Be pleasant, even when it’s difficult.

Sometimes, lawyers will try to rattle a witness.  If you remain calm and collected in your deposition, the lawyer will assume you will be calm and collected at trial.  That helps your case.  Ask to take a break if you need to collect yourself.

Giving a deposition is stressful, but it is an important part of your case, and one you can manage.  Good luck.

Mary Taylor Lokensgard is a recovering attorney with over 15 years of private practice experience in plaintiff’s personal injury litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  She is currently working as an independent writer for leading law firms like The Clark Law Office, theclarklawoffice.com, which represents injured people in Michigan and other states. 

How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents

I work in L.A. Every day I cross intersections where someone fails to yield or runs through a light instead of stopping. And it’s not just cars, buses do it too. Bus drivers are equally clueless and often exercise terrible judgment when going through an intersection. It’s not always the driver, but in most cases it is.

People get hurt. I haven’t witnessed anyone get injured but there have been many close call including myself. It is not impossible to imagine all sorts of injuries taking place every day seeing how I’m only at several intersections for a minute out of the entire day.

You don’t have to be an injury statistic if only you exercise good judgment. Here is how:

If you want to stay safe, you should:

  1. Use sidewalks.
  2. Don’t jaywalk. It’s illegal and no matter how safe you may think it is – people get hurt.
  3. Avoid street crossings without traffic lights.
  4. You should know by now how to look in both directions, and then to the left again.
  5. Don’t rush into the crossing as soon it switches to walk. It’s common for L.A. drivers to run the light last second when they should be stopping.
  6. Watch out for right hand turning vehicles. Many are clueless about yielding and will often hesitate and break the law. Try to make eye contact with the driver so that they are aware you intend to cross.
  7. As you cross, watch the vehicles pulling up to the crosswalk, sometimes they fail to stop. I’ve seen near-accident encounters so many times when a vehicle runs a red light and nearly kills someone. If it looks like the vehicle is not slowing down, just pause to see if it’s really going to stop.
  8. Don’t cross last second when the light is about to change back to green for vehicles.
  9. Don’t be blasting your music as loud as you can so that you can’t hear the traffic around you.
  10. Don’t stand a quarter ways in the intersection before it turns green. I see people do this constantly as if they have to be somewhere so bad. What are you in such a hurry for? Is dying worth getting a few seconds head start in the intersection?
  11. Just don’t cross if the intersection is blocked. I see this too often: a bus blocks the intersection and pedestrians walk around the bus – in front or behind, exposing themselves to the rest of the traffic. Be kind. Let them correct their mistake and JUST WAIT. It’s worth it.
  12. Use your head! Don’t be oblivious to what’s going on around you.

Trivia: Did you know?

You can get a ticket in L.A. for stepping off the curb when the walk sign turns into a red countdown timer. It happens all the time.

About the Author: Gene writes for injury law firm Fisher & Talwar. He’s not an attorney, he just uses common sense and a bit of investigative research to find answers to your questions.

Work Accident Compensation Claims: Step by Step

The following is a guest post on behalf of a U.K. solicitor. This information does not apply to those injured in the U.S.

Each employer is responsible for providing a safe and healthful work environment for employees. This includes providing workers with protective equipment, installing safety measures to prevent accidents. Employers should also provide training for employees about safe work practices that are appropriate to specific work environments.

Nonetheless, and despite anyone’s best efforts, accidents can and do occur. If you have been hurt in an accident at work, or have suffered injuries caused by conditions associated with your work, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, to make a successful claim, you must document your condition and demonstrate that your injuries are related to your work.

Collecting Evidence

When accidents or injuries occur, an accurate account of the incident should be recorded in the employer’s accident book. The injured employee should sign the entry only if he or she agrees with the described account of the accident. Ambulance and physician records should accompany the accident description. Similarities to past workplace accidents should also be recorded in the accident book.

Conditions that may have led to the accident should also be included with the accident description. Examples include water leaks that contributed to slippery floors or broken machinery that may have malfunctioned. Once the accident has been properly documented, it is up to the injured worker to file a claim for compensation.

Establishing the Claim

In an emergency situation, of course the main priority is to obtain medical treatment as quickly as possible. However, once the emergency has passed, or with injuries that do not pose life-threatening circumstances, it is essential to adhere to established protocol for establishing a claim for workplace injury compensation. Following the proper procedure for filing your claim will greatly improve your chances of success.

  1. Report the accident to your employer as soon as possible after receiving medical attention for your injuries.  If you are a member of a union, you should also report the accident to your union representative.
  2. Complete a workplace questionnaire. Attend to this step as soon as possible after the accident while the incident is still fresh to ensure an accurate description.
  3. In the case of apparently minor injuries that do not require emergency treatment, have the injury checked out at the infirmary or with the worker’s GP. Keep a log of any symptoms you have, including dates which they occur.
  4. Collect evidence and witness testimony. Take photographs of the accident scene and collect any broken equipment. Obtain statements of eyewitnesses to the incident as exactly as possible.
  5. File a formal report with your employer and insurance company. The more accurate and complete the report, the better your chances for compensation
  6. If you will be absent from work for three days or more as a result of your injuries, your employer must report your accident to the Health and Safety Executive
  7. Meet with a workplace solicitor. Discuss your options in case your employer disagrees with your account of the accident or attempts to deny your claim.

Pre-Existing Conditions

A possible complicating factor in establishing a workplace injury claim is the presence of pre-existing conditions that might have contributed to the injury or made the effects of the injury worse than they would have been without the pre-existing condition. While a pre-existing condition will not negate a legitimate workplace injury claim, employers may claim reduced liability, or a judge may reduce the amount of compensation an employee may receive.

For example, if an employee suffers an accident while driving a company vehicle on company business, the discovery of faulty steering or braking equipment in the vehicle would provide substantial evidence in favor of an employee workplace injury compensation claim. However, if the accident investigation also uncovered the fact that the employee had been drinking immediately prior to the accident, the employer may claim and the judge may agree that impaired reflexes also contributed to the accident.

Disclaimer: This article provides a general discussion of workplace accident compensation claims. It is not intended to represent legal opinion or offer legal advice. Please consult with a solicitor specializing in work accident compensation with specific questions concerning your personal circumstances.

About Author: Hugh Edmundson is an independent legal researcher. He has recently been researching developments with regards to compensation claims and reporting his findings on online legal publications. For further reading on making a work accident compensation claim, visit the link.

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Injured? How to Determine if You Have a Good Case

Personal injury suits have a bad reputation. After all, many individuals assume that these cases are simply filed frivolously, generally at the slightest provocation. In reality, though, not every personal injury is worth the time and effort of filing a law suit. To determine whether or not you have a case that is worth pursuing, it is wise to take the time to see if it meets a few basic criteria. You should consider the timeliness of the case, the ability to prove the fault of another and the ability to prove your injury.

Is the Lawsuit Timely?

If you want to file any sort of suit for a personal injury, you have to make sure that the suit was filed in a timely manner. Every state has a different statute of limitations for personal injury cases, and filing outside of this time period is impossible. Cases are also better if they are filed quickly after the injury occurs. If you file close to the event in question, it is easier to get testimony from those that may have seen the incident and to get the various types of paperwork that might have been filed after the incident occurred.

Was Someone Else at Fault?

The best way to tell if you have a good case is to determine whether or not someone else was at fault. Can you show, for example, that the individual could have prevented the accident that he or she caused? Was his or her behavior reckless or negligent? If so, you stand a very good chance of being able to bring a successful action to trial. If you cannot show that your accident was the fault of another, though, you may have to give up on moving forward with any kind of case.

Can You Prove an Injury?

Perhaps the best way to determine if you have a good personal injury case is the injury itself. You need to prove not only that you were injured, but that the injury sprang from the action at hand. Generally speaking, it is only a good case if the injury actually had a major impact on your life. A sprained finger, for example, will likely not be a reasonable cause of action. If you did have an injury that caused you pain and suffering, though, you might have a legitimate cause for action.

If you can prove these factors, it is wise to contact an attorney. He or she can help you move forward and get the justice that you deserve. If you cannot, though, it may not be worth the effort of trying to go to trial.

About Author: Casey Haslem is a writer for Attorney Bradley Corbett who is a San Diego criminal lawyer.