Most auto accident injury attorneys don’t recommend a lawsuit as your first course of action after being hurt in a car crash. But if you’ve filed an accident injury claim with an insurance company or sent a demand letter and have still been unsuccessful in recovering adequate car accident compensation, then it’s probably time to actually file an accident injury lawsuit.
One of the most important phases of a lawsuit — because it will greatly influence the outcome of your case — is called “discovery.” And one of the most important aspects of discovery in car accident-related lawsuits is the process of taking depositions. Here’s what you need to know about them:
What a Deposition Is
A deposition is sworn testimony that is given out of court. It is still given under oath, but the judge or other court personnel are generally not involved. In most cases, a court reporter will administer the oath, record the testimony and provide a written transcript that can be used in court. Not only can the claimant (that’s you, if you file a lawsuit) and defendant (the party you’re accusing) be deposed, but so can witnesses to the accident, medical practitioners and expert witnesses.
What to Expect When You’re Deposed
If you file a lawsuit, you will almost certainly be deposed by the defendant’s auto accident injury attorney. They will probably ask you to recount your remembrance of the accident, which you should do honestly and without exaggeration. You may also need to answer questions about your medical records and treatment choices, as well as your employment situation (if you are seeking compensation for lost wages).
If at any point during the questioning you don’t know the answer to a question, simply say so. Don’t make anything up. Also try to remain polite, even if you think that the other side’s lawyers are being abrasive. You should know, however, that if you’re asked a question that is intrusive and irrelevant, you are not required to answer it.
What to Ask the Defendant
On the flipside, you’ll also have the opportunity for you and your auto accident injury attorneys to depose the defendant, the person you believe to have been negligent in the accident. You’ll want to make sure your team obtains information about the person you claim caused the crash, as well as the owner of the car (if those parties are not the same).
You’ll want a detailed account of the events leading up to the accident, particularly anything that would indicate recklessness on the part of the other driver — talking on a cell phone, fiddling with the radio, or driving under the influence. Speeding is the majority cause of all accidents (including 40% of fatal accidents) in the United States, and distracted driving is thought to be the cause of about 20% of accidents. If the other driver was running an errand for work or otherwise involved in commercial enterprises, then you’ll want more information about that, too.
Do you have anything to add about depositions? Use the comments section to chime in.