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Are Fishing Expeditions Allowed At Depositions?


icon of microchip discover
icon of microchip discover

The first thing you must know about the discovery process called depositions are the types of questions that are allowed. In fact, even if the questions are irrelevant, compound, disjunctive, conjunctive, asked and answered, or even lack foundation, etc., they are allowed.

These types of questions could be fishing expeditions where you are asked questions that don't even relate to the actual incident. The reasoning is that the question's answer may lead to other evidence or witnesses with information that is admissible during trial.

So the other side can make the objection and preserve it for trial but you must answer whether you are the personal injury plaintiff or defendant. For example, in a car accident case, for example, you can still use unverified written discovery to impeach the character of your witness.

What are Some Exceptions to Questions That Can Be Asked at Depositions?

Although fishing expeditions are allowed, some questions are protected from a reply under the Constitution, or statute.  Therefore you are not required to respond.

So the exceptions would be if the information is:

  • Private
  • Privileged
  • Confidential.

This remains true even if it is a tag team style deposition with multiple parties. Even then, the opposing side can request a privilege login order to see what is being withheld. Then the judge can decide in camera if there is a substantial likelihood that this evidence is helpful and a low burden of harming any privileges.

For most lawyers, no matter how long they have practiced law, depositions are time-consuming and accompanied by threats and a lot of stress. No matter what, the defense attorney needs to get answers to a few specific items and so does the plaintiff, you.

Why is Your Credibility so Key at Your Deposition?

Always at issue is your credibility. In some cases, a jury may find in favor of a plaintiff and only award a dollar because he or she is a jerk. Usually, this has to do with the defense tearing the plaintiff a new one during discovery.

Locking the plaintiff into a false or dishonest answer, or getting a plaintiff to change the answer has been the death knell for many a personal injury case. This means the plaintiff's lawyer must be prepared.

For example, your lawyer must know how to deal with questions regarding prior similar accidents and injuries. This is helpful in proving nightclub assaults and slip and fall cases, for example.

But if the plaintiff lies about their past criminal history, illnesses, lawsuits, work history, treatments and records of treatment, this can kill their case. Because of that, your credibility is lost.


So no matter what, plaintiffs must be prepared to answer as follows:

  • "I don't remember, " "I don't recall."
  • "Yes."
  • "No."
  • "I don't know."
  • "In front." (For example. Q: "Where were you?" A: "In front.").

So although the deponent must be honest, there is no requirement to volunteer information or be forced into answering something he or she is unsure of. Obviously, the attorney you hire must teach and counsel you the process.

But even if your lawyer objects, in most cases, you must answer the question. If not, you can be sanctioned. In some cases, a failure to respond can be met with "Doomsday Sanctions."

These sanctions include, issue and terminating sanctions. In other words, whole defenses and even whole cases can be terminated. So prior to questioning, make sure you are prepared.

Who Should You Call When You Are Stuck in Your Personal Injury Depostion?

The experienced accident attorneys at Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC are commited to holding negligent people accountable for their action. Our studious lawyers know the applicable discovery laws. Plus, we have extensive experience taking on these types of claims.

The benefit to you is that you can leverage our negotiating skills and talent. When you or a loveed one wants to win maximum compensation after a bad accident call our office today. Reach out now for a free consultation. If you cannot call, simply complete the contact form here on our website.

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