April 27, 2020
Conferencing Depositions for Personal Injury Cases
As we continue to grapple with the realities of COVID-19 and the restrictions that the pandemic has imposed on personal injury cases across the United States, the importance of leveraging existing technologies grows increasingly apparent. The team at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC is taking the steps necessary to provide our clients with top-quality service throughout this time, and have begun to leverage such platforms as Zoom and Google Hangouts in order to facilitate depositions remotely.
If you are currently going through a personal injury case and have been preparing for the discovery phase of the legal process, you may have assumed that all depositions will be put on hold until the country is able to resume normal operations. Fortunately, we will be able to proceed as normal while still ensuring that our clients remain safe by taking appropriate social distancing measures.
Learn more about what you can expect for your deposition if it will be done using a conferencing platform during the Coronavirus outbreak and possibly beyond. We are taking all possible steps to make this experience as simple and easy as possible for our clients, and we will be happy to work directly with you to find an appropriate solution for your needs.
Can Depositions Be Done Remotely Using a Conferencing Program?
As we attempt to understand the available options for the work that we are doing with our personal injury clients, the question of how to perform a deposition is one of the central questions. We are happy to work directly with our clients through video calls or phone calls, and much of the negotiation process between us and the defendant and their legal team can take place through email, phone, and video calling. However, a deposition is a unique opportunity to put pressure on the defendant or another witness in order to gather important information for our upcoming trial.
We must work to find a line between leveraging technology to continue our work, and the possible loss of effectiveness when it comes to extracting valuable information from someone involved in your personal injury case. Currently, a law firm involved in an ongoing case with Apple had to make the difficult decision to postpone 14 expert witness depositions by 60 days in order to determine if any new options or information would surface during this time, but when your personal injury award is on the line, we may not want to continue to draw out the legal process.
The short answer is: yes, we will be able to continue with depositions using video conference calls. However, we will need to work through all of the available information in order to determine whether or not this option makes the most sense for our case.
Tips For Preparing To Attend a Video Conferencing Deposition
If you have decided to move forward with depositions during this time, or if you are preparing to be deposed over a video calling platform, the following tips can help you prepare as best as possible. Sitting through a deposition is a stressful experience either way and when you are trying to use a technology that you may not be familiar with, the process can be even more overwhelming.
The following tips are intended to show you that a video conference call deposition is not as complicated or scary as it sounds; in fact, you may enjoy going through the interview from the comfort of your home.
Get Familiar With the Video Software
You and your attorney will determine beforehand what type of calling software you will need to use for the deposition. Once you have installed the software, work with your attorney or a family member to do a “dry run” where you can set up the call, learn how to navigate the interface, and generally get an idea of what you can expect when it comes time to go through the deposition.
Pick a Quiet Area
One of the big issues that many people run into with video conferencing is the fact that there may be a lot of background noise that can interrupt important conversations and cause your microphone to override another person’s channel. In order to make sure that you are not contributing to these interruptions, choose a quiet area in your home that has a steady internet connection.
Run a Network Speed Test
Video calling can take up a significant amount of bandwidth on your home network, so it is important that you know whether or not your internet can handle the increase in data transmission. You can run a speed test to make sure that you are going to be able to remain connected with a clear signal throughout the deposition. Depending on the platform that you will be using, you can find their requirements on their technical specifications page of the company’s site.
Prepare As If It Is An In-Person Deposition
Remember that you will be on camera, meaning that even though you are in your own home, you will need to dress professionally and take the call from a desk or table, not from your couch. Wear court-appropriate attire to send a clear signal that you are a responsible individual, just as you would dress if you were attending an in-person meeting.
Consider Your Background
One more thing to consider is the backdrop to your video conference call. If possible, choose a white wall with no windows or other visual distractions that will take away from the clarity and focus of your call. Make sure that you will not have your back to a very bright window or lighting unit. Otherwise, you will only show up as a silhouette during your call.
Turn Off Notifications
Since you will be using your own computer for the deposition, it is essential that you limit all distractions such as notifications, instant messages, or other alerts that can interfere with your attention. In order to ensure that you are able to perform your best during the deposition, you will be happy that you limited all distractions, digital and otherwise, before you begin.