A car accident is an incredibly stressful situation. After an accident, people often face processes and meetings that they never expected. In some cases, particularly legal proceedings, these meetings overwhelm and confuse individuals.
To learn more about these proceedings, it’s important to understand the particulars of a deposition. A deposition is a common aspect for car accident lawsuits. However, the process tends to leave people confused and intimidated.
In a deposition, parties ask questions of those involved in the accident. Typically, the lawyers question the defendant and plaintiff in the case. The idea of a deposition is to paint a clear picture of what happened in the accident and who caused it.
Afterward, both parties have a better idea of how to move forward in the case. Then, they gather evidence to file the claim in a court of law. If your lawyer tells you that you need to be in a deposition, there’s no need to worry.
Before the deposition, your lawyer will help you prepare for the process. Often, people find that a little preparation goes a long way. Below, we take a closer look at the deposition and provide some insight on how to act.
What Is a Deposition?
In a car accident case, lawyers use depositions to elicit testimonies from witnesses. Generally, they take depositions in order to support their claim. During the deposition, they ask the witness questions, which they must answer honestly.
A stenographer maintains a record of the answers. Typically, depositions cover a range of questions asked in private. The defendant’s lawyer questions the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s lawyer questions the defendant in most situations.
Often, lawyers depose witnesses of the accident. However, they also depose others who might offer valuable, relevant testimony. Usually, depositions take place in private, occurring in a law firm’s offices or a conference room.
Common Questions in a Deposition
In a deposition, the lawyers tend to focus on gathering information about who you are as an individual and what you know about the accident. You might hear a broad range of questions.
Here are a few common examples.
- Are you aware you’re under oath and obligated to answer all questions honestly?
- What is your full name?
- Have you been in a deposition previously?
- Are you prepared to answer questions in this deposition?
- How long have you lived at your current address?
- Where else have you lived?
- How old are you?
- Where were you born?
- Do you live alone or with others?
- Where did you go to school?
- Who do you live with?
- Where do you work? What about your spouse?
- Have you been involved in a lawsuit prior to this one?
- What type of degree do you have?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?
- Did you prepare for this deposition?
- What were you doing just before the accident?
- Did you maintain documentation of the accident?
- What documents have you seen about your case?
These questions might not seem entirely relevant. However, the lawyers involved want to paint a picture of who you are. For the opposition, they may attempt to paint you as untrustworthy.
Eventually, the lawyer’s questions become more specific to the accident. Then, they ask you to relate whatever you saw or experienced in the incident. Additionally, they may request that you explain other relevant evidence to the case.
Most importantly, it is essential that you answer every question honestly.
How to Prepare for a Deposition
Before the deposition, your attorney helps you prepare. Generally, this involves a mock deposition to allow you to practice answering questions and gain a better idea of what to expect. Then, they help you work on appropriate answers and provide tips on how to avoid nervousness or excitement.
At the deposition, it is crucial to be prepared. This includes your outfit. Typically, people wear clean, professional clothes. Additionally, you and your lawyer should bring evidence of any injuries sustained in the accident as well as proof of different damages.
In the deposition, it’s important to answer truthfully and directly. Maintain your composure and don’t let the situation overwhelm or intimidate you. Moreover, don’t use a rehearsed version of the story.
Simply answer honestly without any sort of pretense. If you aren’t sure how to answer a question, feel free to say that. It’s crucial to be upfront and honest instead of making a guess with no explanation.
After the Deposition
At the end of the deposition, you are free to leave. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to voice them to your attorney.
When the deposition ends, the person in charge of recording it seals the recording and sends copies to the lawyers and others who request it. Then, the lawyers use the evidence in depositions to craft their case for their clients. This is used in negotiations as well as in court, depending on the strength of each party’s claim.
In some cases, you might have to go to court after the deposition. If this happens, you at least have practice under your belt to help you answer questions. Whether you go to court depends on the negotiation process, though. For some claims, both parties are able to reach a settlement before the need to file a lawsuit.
What’s the Process of a Car Accident Claim?
Often, the claim process lasts longer than people realize. While some are clear and simple, it depends on the circumstances of the case. These are the basic steps that people follow in the claims process.
- Free consultation with an attorney
- A meeting to go over the details and review evidence
- Gathering evidence to support your claim as well as the damages you accrued
- Filing a complaint and demand letter that goes to the other party’s insurance company
- Receiving a response to this initial demand, rejecting the claim, or making an initial offer to settle
- Gathering additional evidence, including depositions and written statements
- Negotiations for a settlement, which should cover your financial, physical, and personal losses
- Going to court in the event it’s impossible to reach an agreement
- Receiving a verdict from the judge or jury of your case
- Receiving the money, processed by your lawyer
While this looks like a short enough list, the process tends to be long and drawn-out. When you want to complete the process as quickly as possible, it’s important to work with a lawyer early on.
Once you have representation, your lawyer works to move things along more quickly. This helps you attain your settlement within months instead of spending years in court.