A car accident deposition is a legal proceeding in which a driver, passengers, or other individuals involved come together to provide testimony about what happened. During the deposition, each person will be questioned by an attorney, who will use the responses to build a case for their respective client.
Many times, both you and the defendant will give your testimony about the accident under oath. The key is that the defendant’s attorney is looking for you to make a mistake here, and if you do, you could lose the case.
This deposition is critical to your case and, understandably, it can feel quite overwhelming. However, with proper preparation, you can feel confident going into it. Let’s dig into how you should get ready for your car accident deposition.
What is the Purpose of a Car Accident Deposition?
The purpose of the deposition is to gather information about exactly when, where, and how the car accident occurred, as well as any contributing factors such as poor road conditions or distracted driving. What you say during your deposition will most likely be used during the trial proceedings.
Should I Have a Lawyer Present?
Having a lawyer present is an important step in undergoing a successful car accident deposition. During this process, the opposing party may try to ask you questions about the car accident or about any injuries that you have sustained. By having a legal professional at your side during this time, you can rest assured that any sensitive information will be handled confidentially and protected from disclosure.
Additionally, a lawyer can help to ensure that any evidence related to the car accident is properly documented and preserved for potential use later on. With a lawyer by your side, you can feel confident that your needs will be taken care of throughout this often stressful process.
How Should I Prepare for the Deposition?
When preparing for your car accident deposition, it is important to be well organized and thorough in your responses.
First, make sure that you have all of the relevant information related to the accident at hand. This includes any documents related to car repairs or medical treatments, as well as contact information for any eyewitnesses who may be able to provide testimony about what happened during the collision.
Second, be prepared to answer questions about how exactly the car accident occurred. It’s important to be truthful here while not giving any information that can be used against you. This may involve explaining what actions you took leading up to the collision and describing how you perceived the other driver’s actions. Review potential cross-examination questions with your lawyer that may be asked by the other side and prepare your responses ahead of time.
What Questions Will I Be Asked?
Here are some of the questions you’re likely to be asked during a car accident deposition:
- What happened leading up to the accident?
- How did the accident happen?
- What do you remember about the accident itself?
- Were you injured in the accident? If so, how severely?
- What damages did you incur as a result of the accident?
- Did you miss any time from work because of the accident?
- Have you sought any medical treatment since the accident?
- What medical treatment did you receive?
- What is the prognosis for your injuries?
- Have your injuries resulted in any permanent damage?
- What is your current pain level?
- What is the expected cost of your medical treatment?
- What is the expected cost of your long-term care needs?
These are just a few of the potential questions you may be asked during a car accident deposition. Your attorney may have more questions based on the details of your case.
Plus, it’s always best to keep your responses short and sweet. When possible, answer questions with a simple “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know.” Don’t feel obligated to offer any more information or guess about anything. And, if you don’t understand a question because it is phrased ambiguously, never hesitate to request further explanation.
What if I Make a Mistake During the Deposition?
Saying the wrong thing during your car accident deposition is not the end of the world. There are several strategies you can use to recover from a minor error, including seeking clarification from your attorney and reminding yourself that every deposition involves some level of uncertainty.
In the end, your car accident deposition should be seen as just one piece of evidence in a much larger legal puzzle, and being too hard on yourself can be counterproductive to your case. So if you make a mistake during your car accident deposition, take a deep breath and focus on doing your best moving forward.
What Happens After the Deposition in an Auto Accident Lawsuit?
After the deposition, the lawyers for each side will review the transcript and may prepare a list of follow-up questions for each deponent. Ask to see the transcript and point out any errors in the records.
The next step is usually discovery, which is the process of exchanging information and evidence between the parties. This may include requests for documents, interrogatories (written questions that must be answered under oath), and requests for admissions (statements that the opposing party must either admit or deny).
Once discovery is complete, the parties will file motions with the court and conduct settlement negotiations. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial.
Will I Need a Medical Exam?
The defendant’s legal counsel may ask for you to get an independent medical exam. Keep in mind that only the injuries you’re claiming should be examined. Feel free to reject being examined anywhere beyond the documented injuries.
Similarly, your insurance company may refer you to a doctor they prefer. To avoid getting examined by a biased doctor, you can go to a doctor referred by your car accident attorney instead.
Will I Get a Settlement or Go to Trial After a Car Accident Deposition?
Most car accident cases are settled before they ever reach trial. Why? Because going to trial is expensive and time-consuming for both sides. Settling a case out of court is usually cheaper and faster, and it allows both sides to avoid the stress of a trial. It’s also important to remember that you are not required to settle your case just because the other side offers you a settlement. If you believe that you are entitled to more compensation than the other side is offering, you have the right to take your case to trial.
Preparing for and going through a car accident deposition can feel daunting. If you’re looking for peace of mind and support through this process, feel free to reach out to us. We have over 25 years of experience in auto accident claims and helping our clients get great results.