Depositions are an important part of the legal process and can be used to gather information about a car accident case. A series of questions are asked by both sides under oath outside of a courtroom for discovery purposes.
Understanding how a deposition works can help you know what to expect and how to best prepare. An attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you practice your answers.
If you have been in a car accident through no fault of your own, Galloway Jefcoat is here to help. Our firm has a proven track record, successfully recovering millions in compensation on our clients’ behalf. The initial consultation is free and comes with no legal obligation. If you have a valid case and decide to have us represent you, we charge zero upfront fees. We only receive payment if we help you win.
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What is a Car Accident Deposition?
A deposition in a car accident case is generally a meeting in which you are asked questions about the case you are involved in. Both sides get together and provide testimony. This testimony is given under oath and will be used during the case. Depositions can be stressful and should be taken seriously because the answers you provide to the other side can make or break your car accident case.
A car accident deposition occurs during the discovery phase of litigation – each side is given the opportunity to “discover” what the other side knows. The discovery phase may involve not only depositions, but also eyewitness interviews, subpoenas for evidence, requests for documents and more. Settlement negotiations can happen at any time once a lawsuit has been filed up until going to trial.
What is the Purpose of a Deposition?
The purpose of a deposition is to ensure there are no surprises at trial and to establish certain facts of the case as true. If both sides agree to a fact during a deposition, there is no need to dispute that fact at trial. Depositions allow both sides to understand what happened in the car accident and the damages being claimed. As the victim (plaintiff) a deposition is your chance to tell your side of the story.
Things to Expect at a Car Accident Deposition
Depositions typically take place at the office of one of the attorneys involved in the case or at the office of the court reporter. However, sometimes, the meeting may happen in a conference room or available jury room at the courthouse. The location is mutually agreed upon by both sides.
While judges are not present during depositions, a court reporter is. He or she will be responsible for recording every question and answer. Each side is sworn in at the beginning of the deposition.
Once under oath, anything said is on the record. That is why it is important to answer honestly, directly, and without giving too much information. Making false statements could lead to legal penalties.
The attorneys involved will begin asking questions and you will be asked to provide answers. Generally, the questions asked are the same or like questions that will be asked at trial. Either side may object to a question, though very few objections will stop a question from going forward.
How to Best Prepare for a Deposition
Your attorney can instruct you on what to expect at a deposition, how to behave, and how to properly answer questions. At a deposition you are likely to be asked:
- Your name, date of birth and other identifying information
- When and where the car accident happened
- What you were doing leading up to and after the accident
- Who you spoke to following the car accident (i.e. police, paramedic)
- Your mental or physical health status before the car accident
- Whether you have sought medical attention after the car accident
- Whether you have received a diagnosis or undergone treatment
- How the car accident has impacted or changed your life
The responses you provide to the questions being asked by the other side can make a significant impact on your case. Below are some ways you can best prepare for a deposition:
- Be truthful – Your credibility is everything in a car accident case. A deposition is a sworn question-and-answer session that can be used against you. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know”, “I don’t recall” or “I don’t remember,” provided you are telling the truth.
- Remain calm – Maintain your composure in your demeanor and body language. The other side may ask questions that seem unnecessarily provocative or irrelevant. Avoid acting defensive.
- Listen carefully – You do not have to answer a question right away. Take a few moments to understand what is being asked before replying. You can also ask for clarification on something.
- Give simple answers – Avoid providing lengthy or complicated answers. A deposition is not the time to overshare. Do not volunteer more information than you are being asked for.
- Do not speculate – You are not obligated to speculate or engage in hypothetical situations.
What Happens After a Deposition is Done?
After the deposition, the court reporter will process a transcription and provide copies and any evidence entered into the record for the attorneys. Each side will have access to the same information but may interpret the information differently to strengthen their claims or defenses.
Sometimes the deposition may lead to a settlement agreement between both sides and the case can be resolved. However, the attorneys may want more testimony to get clarification on things at a second deposition or may try to resolve the case through mediation if the settlement offer is unsatisfactory.
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If you have been injured in a car accident due to negligence, we recommend reaching out to an experienced Lafayette-based vehicle crash lawyer as soon as possible. Car accident victims who hire legal representation often recover more in compensation than those who do not.
Contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation. There is no risk or obligation involved. We charge nothing up front for our services unless we help you obtain compensation in a settlement or verdict.
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