What Is a Personal Injury Deposition?May 2, 2023
Unless you have filed a personal injury lawsuit in the past, you are probably unfamiliar with the deposition process and the impact it could have on your case. Basically, a deposition is an essential part of the discovery process where both sides have the opportunity to ask questions about the case and determine the strength of the opposing side’s argument. The individuals who are generally present at a deposition include the person who was called to testify, or the deponent, the plaintiff, and both parties’ lawyers. There will also be an individual who is qualified to administer oaths, as well as a court reporter.
There are four stages of a car accident lawsuit that you should be prepared for, including discovery, mediation, trial, and appeal. The deposition occurs during the discovery phase, which is a crucial step in a car accident case. While a deposition can be held in almost any location, most attorneys prefer to conduct them at a law firm or a court reporter’s office. A court reporter will be present to record the entire deposition. Once the deposition begins, your lawyer will likely begin the questioning, and the defendant’s lawyer will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. The opposing counsel can object to certain questions or subject matter, but the questioning will proceed since there is no judge present to rule on objections. However, the objections will be included in the transcript.
While the deposition may not take place in a courtroom, you will still be under oath, which means that you must answer all questions honestly and to the best of your ability. Even if you are unsure about how to answer a question, or you cannot remember certain details, simply answer the question by saying that you do not remember. Do not speculate or try to answer the question with information that may not be accurate, as you can accidentally incriminate yourself. You may also ask for clarification if you do not understand the question.
Will I Be Deposed if I am the Injured Party?
Once a personal injury lawsuit has been filed, depositions can be taken of any person who may be able to provide information that is valuable to the case. Just because you are the person who files the lawsuit does not mean that you will not be deposed. In fact, you should expect your attorney and opposing counsel to ask you questions about the accident, your injuries, and other aspects of the case.
When you are claiming injuries as part of your personal injury lawsuit, the severity of your injuries is a significant issue that will likely impact the outcome of the lawsuit, so you should be prepared to be questioned by opposing counsel about your injuries.
What Happens After the Deposition?
There are a number of things that are likely to occur after the deposition, all of which can have a significant impact on the outcome of the lawsuit. You should expect the following to occur after a deposition in a car accident lawsuit:
- The court reporter prepares a transcript. After the deposition, the court reporter will provide a verbatim transcript of the deposition. It can take a few weeks for the reporter to prepare a legible transcript, but this is an important document that both sides will refer to throughout the remainder of the case.
- Both sides will review the transcript. Both sides will receive a copy of the transcript, at which time each lawyer will thoroughly review the document, identify all of the key details, and identify any errors or inconsistencies. This allows each side to correct any mistakes, and determine whether additional witnesses need to be heard.
- Your car accident lawyer will determine how the deposition will affect your case. Once your lawyer has combed through every detail of the deposition, they will consider the positive and negative aspects, and give you honest feedback about how the deposition went, how it will affect your case, and what you can expect to receive in terms of a financial settlement. Your lawyer may want to call additional witnesses to depose if they believe it will help your case.
- You may be required to get an independent medical examination. Depending on the circumstances, the other side may ask that you get an independent medical examination to confirm the nature and severity of your injuries, how the injuries are impacting your daily life, and obtain additional proof as to the cause. The other side’s goal is to find evidence that your injuries are not as serious as you claimed, which may decrease the settlement amount that is owed to you. Your car accident lawyer will prepare you for the exam and anticipate some of the tactics that the other side’s insurance company may resort to, including choosing the doctor you see for the medical exam and attempting to minimize your injuries.
- Your car accident lawyer may negotiate a settlement. Your lawyer may go through several rounds of negotiation with the insurance company before reaching an agreement. The first round of negotiation may occur before the insurance company has the opportunity to conduct a thorough investigation. Be prepared for the insurance company to offer a settlement that reflects when that insurance company is prepared to offer, rather than what you deserve for your injuries. During each round, your lawyer will offer their legal opinion about whether or not to accept the offer, although the decision is ultimately up to you. You can accept a settlement check or proceed to trial if you feel that the offer is not fair.
- You may be required to attend a mediation session. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you will attend a mediation session where you and your lawyer will meet with representatives from the insurance company. A mediator who has a thorough understanding of personal injury law will help you reach a resolution. The mediator may recommend that you accept or reject a settlement offer, but they cannot force you to make a decision or accept a compromise.
- The case goes to trial. If you are unable to agree on a settlement during the negotiation or mediation phases, your case may proceed to trial. Both sides will present their case to a jury. You will need to show evidence of your injuries, your medical expenses, and the impact the injuries have had on your daily life. The other side will try to prove that your injuries may not be as serious as you claimed or that you were responsible for causing the accident. Once the evidence has been presented by both sides, the court may make a ruling in your claim. This is a legally binding verdict that both sides must obey. If the court rules in your favor, the insurance company has 30 days to pay out your settlement. A failure to make a payment within the required time frame may result in additional fees and penalties, so it is highly recommended that you contact your car accident lawyer if you do not receive your settlement within the 30-day time frame.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Clients With the Deposition Process
Our Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can prepare you for the deposition process and address any questions or concerns. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Lanham, and Owings Mills, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.