If you have been seriously injured in a car accident and have filed a lawsuit against the negligent driver, you will eventually have to go through a deposition. A deposition is part of the “discovery phase” of the lawsuit where each side will exchange information about themselves and relevant facts of the case. Continue reading for a better understanding of the discovery process in personal injury litigation and what happens in a car accident deposition of the plaintiff.
The Discovery Process
As mentioned, the discovery process is the phase in litigation where the parties exchange information about the case and the pertinent facts. This is done through in ways:
- Complaint and answer: First, the plaintiff will file a complaint that contains numbered paragraphs that state facts about the case, what happened, what the injuries were, and why the plaintiff thinks the defendant was responsible. The defendant is required to file an answer to the complaint, where the defendant either admits or denies the allegations in each numbered paragraph. Through this process, there are some facts that can be agreed upon by the parties.
- Written discovery: This is where the parties will send each other written questions that have to be answered, as well as written requests for the production of documents. If either party thinks a question or request is inappropriate for some reason, they can object to it, and if no agreement can be reached, the issue will be decided by the judge handling the case.
- Depositions: After all of the written questions are answered and the documents are exchanged, the lawyers will schedule depositions of both the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s), as well as any witnesses that might be called to trial. A deposition is where the party or witness sits down with their attorney and the attorney representing the other side, and the attorney asks the party or witness questions, with a court reporter transcribing everything. These depositions are done under oath, so they are treated just like the person is testifying in front of the judge and jury.
What Happens During the Deposition?
If you are a plaintiff who was injured in a car accident, an experienced lawyer will meet with you sometime prior to the deposition to prepare for the meeting. In some cases, your attorney may meet with you several times, especially if the case is a complicated one. During the prep meetings, your attorney will go over the facts of the case, review any pertinent documents, and go over a history of your medical conditions and treatment. Hopefully, if you are prepared enough, the deposition will go well.
Here is what the defendant’s attorney will likely ask you about:
- A little bit about your life, such as educational background, work history, family life, any relevant prior health problems, etc.
- Information regarding anything that happened the day of the accident. Where were you coming from? Where were you going? What time did you need to get there? Was anyone with you?
- The attorney may ask about past driving accidents or driving law infractions, such as speeding tickets.
- The attorney may ask that you describe, in your own words, what happened in the accident.
- You may be asked about the weather, if you wear glasses and, if so, if were you wearing them.
- The attorney may ask what happened after the car crash. Did you talk to anyone? Did the defendant talk to you? What did they say? Were the police called? Describe the damage to the vehicles. Were there any witnesses? Were any pictures taken that weren’t already produced earlier in the discovery process?
- You will likely be asked about your medical condition and what types of symptoms you felt at the scene of the accident. Did you hit the inside of the car at all? Were there airbags? Were you wearing your seatbelt?
The deposition could be more detailed, depending upon the case, the injuries, and the facts of the accident. However, this gives you a good snapshot of what types of questions might be asked.
Answer The Question Asked
One rule that an experienced attorney will tell you before the deposition is to only answer the question asked. While the defendant’s attorney is entitled to know all of the relevant information that the plaintiff has, the defense attorney has to first earn that information by asking the right questions. If they do not ask the right question, they will not get the answer.
For example, if the defendant’s attorney asked the plaintiff if it was raining at the time of the accident, and it was, the plaintiff should answer, “Yes.” The plaintiff is not obligated to elaborate any further. The attorney asked a question and it was answered. If the attorney wants more information about the rain, they can ask. Otherwise, you do not have to provide them with an answer.
With the help of a skilled, knowledgeable personal injury attorney at your side, going through a car accident deposition should be a breeze and nothing to worry about.
Hiring A Florida Car Accident Attorney
The Watson Firm has extensive experience protecting the rights of injury victims in car accidents. Our personal injury attorneys frequently bring claims on behalf of the injured, so we understand how to effectively manage each stage of the process, including depositions. We can effectively advise you as to your options and the best course of action. Most importantly, we will work tirelessly in our pursuit of full justice against those who are responsible for causing your injuries and losses.
Feel free to call (850) 607-2929 or contact us online to consult with an experienced lawyer regarding your case.