One part of the litigation process in Alberta is referred to as “Questioning”. In other jurisdictions in Canada this procedure is often referred to as an “Examination for Discovery”, and in the United States it is known as a “Deposition”.
WHAT IS QUESTIONING?
The process of Questioning is intended to assist the lawyers involved in the injury claim to obtain and learn all of the relevant details of the claim being made. At this stage, Questioning is an opportunity for all of the parties to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. It is also a time to confirm the facts that will be relied upon in court, narrow the issues in dispute, and assess the credibility of the witnesses.
During the Questioning phase, issues regarding who is liable or at fault for the accident and issues regarding the amount of damages that are payable to compensate the Plaintiff for his/her injuries will be flushed out.
Questioning is an oral examination and the opposing lawyer will be asking you questions under oath. A court reporter is present to audio record the procedure and create a written transcript of everything that is said during this stage. Questioning takes place in a room either at the office of your lawyer, the office of the opposing party, or at the offices of a court reporter.
The Questioning phase is often an intimidating and stressful time for the injured victim. The legal team at Cuming & Gillespie LLP believes that the more prepared our clients are for Questioning, the more confident they will be during the process. Our legal team will help ensure that you are familiar with the process and are prepared for the questions.
TIPS TO SUCCEED AT YOUR QUESTIONING
- Familiarize yourself with all of the relevant facts of the case
It is important to be knowledgeable about your case and to be informed of all of the relevant facts. Ensure that you refresh your memory of the details surrounding your accident and the medical attention your have received since the accident.
- Always tell the truth
During Questioning, you will be under oath to tell the truth and must answer all questions truthfully. Inconsistencies in your recount of the accident or injuries could be detrimental to your case. It is important to always be honest during Questioning.
- Be aware that the evidence given during Questioning can be used against you
The purpose of Questioning is to collect your oral testimony regarding your accident claim. An audio recording and a written transcript of the questions and answers will be made. Any information you provide at Questioning can be used against you at trial to impeach your evidence. This means that if you provide information at trial that deviates from the information you provided during Questioning, the other party can use the inconsistencies to suggest that you are not an honest or credible witness.
- Always listen carefully to the question being asked
It is important during Questioning to answer all questions honestly. In order to do so you must listen to the complete question carefully and you must understand the question that you are being asked. If you do not understand the question, you must let your lawyer know and you should only answer a question when you fully understand what is being asked. Also, only answer the question that is being asked, nothing more or less.
- Do not guess when answering questions
If you do not know the answer to a question being asked of you, do not guess. Advise the lawyer that you do not know the answer. Speculating can provide doubt of the details of the case and may be used against you to refute your claims. It is always preferable to answer “I do not remember” if you honestly do not remember.
- Provide verbal answers only
As we have already advised, an audio recording is being made during the Questioning. Providing loud and clear verbal answers to each question is imperative to the process. Answering questions by shaking your head, nodding or providing utterances such as “um-hmm” or “uh-uh” will not be picked up by the audio recording. Describing activities or movements by acting them out or pointing to a location on your body will not be picked up by the audio recording. Therefore, it is important to always describe in words your movements or a location on your body.
- If your lawyer makes an objection or interjects, stop talking immediately
If your lawyer interrupts the proceeding to object to a question being asked, you must stop talking and allow the lawyers to deal with the objection. You will be advised when it is time for you to continue to talk.
- Always remain calm and be pleasant
First impressions are always important and the Questioning phase is the first opportunity that the opposing lawyer gets to meet you in person and to assess your demeanour and character. It is important to be honest, polite, make eye contact and try to smile throughout the Questioning. You do not want to raise your voice or become angry during this process.
The process of Questioning in a personal injury case is undeniably a stressful experience, but with your lawyer by your side and appropriate preparation it is an opportunity to show the opposing lawyer that you can be a confident witness at trial.
Choosing an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will help ensure that you present yourself in the best light during Questioning and proceed to attain the compensation that you deserve. The lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP are prepared to help you meet this goal.
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious personal injury, we are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding hiring a lawyer for your personal injury or medical malpractice case. Please contact Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or at 403-571-0555.