What Should I Expect in a Deposition for a Car Accident?

What Should I Expect in a Deposition for a Car Accident?

Depositions for car accidents occur during the pre-trial discovery process of your car accident trial. Opposing counsel will ask you, the “deponent,” questions to gather information about the accident. Your answers are considered a form of sworn testimony.

Depositions can be conducted orally or in a written format. In either case, you will be requested to give an oath (or some other affirmation, if more appropriate) that you will respond truthfully to the questions asked of you.

Oral Depositions

In an oral deposition for a car accident, you will report to a location agreed upon by all attorneys involved in your car accident case—often your lawyer’s office or a court reporter’s office. The attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant will be there, as will an individual qualified to administer oaths, as your responses serve as sworn testimony. Finally, a stenographer/court reporter will likely be there to type the questions and answers.

The Set-Up

Rather than testify from a witness stand, as is the case during trial, you will give your deposition while sitting at a conference table. Your lawyer will sit next to you. Opposing counsel will sit across from you. A representative from the opposition might also be present, sitting next to his/her attorney. This person may only observe the deposition and cannot confront you or ask you questions, so you need not worry about that discomfort.

The Process

After you swear to answer all the questions truthfully, opposing counsel will start to ask you questions. Your lawyer is not allowed to coach you through your answers, nor is he or she as free to object to deposition questions as with questions posed at trial.

If present, the court reporter will be clicking away, typing up the exchange between everyone in the room. Later, he or she will provide a written transcript of the dialogue.

You will have to answer all the questions orally. You are not allowed to nod for “yes” and shake your head for “no,” instead, you must speak those words.

Remember that the opposing counsel has called this deposition to retrieve information about the case, learn what you might say on the witness stand during the trial, and impeach you as a credible witness if your trial testimony should differ from your deposition statements.

The Questions You Can Expect

It is all about being truthful, and your attorney will prepare you for the deposition, so you know what questions to expect and how to keep your answers simple and direct, to offset the chance of nerves scrambling your words.

Generally, you will be asked questions about the following:

  • Your personal background, including your medical, employment, and criminal background—as well as whether you have filed personal injury suits in the past
  • Details of the accident, including who did what and when they did it, as well as your recollection of traffic and weather conditions, etc.
  • Injuries you sustained and the treatment you received as a result.

What to Expect from Your Attorney at the Car Accident Deposition

Speaking of your car accident lawyer, do not expect much out of him or her at the deposition. Objections do not enter into the deposition hearings, because there is no need to keep inadmissible evidence from the jury when a jury is not present to hear it. The most your lawyer will do is to assert privilege (doctor-patient privilege, for example) or to realign questions that might be misleading or confusing to you.

Written Depositions

In a written deposition, attorneys from both sides submit questions before the deposition takes place. When you arrive at the deposition, you will answer the questions in writing. The lawyers will not necessarily be present, and, if not, will not be able to ask follow-up questions based on your answers, as they would in an oral deposition.

Tips for Answering Questions at Your Car Accident Deposition

  1. Arrive early, so you have a chance to visit with your lawyer for last-minute advice.
  2. Do not answer until opposing counsel completes the question.
  3. Do not offer up any additional information other than what specifically answers the opposing counsel’s question.
  4. Speak up if you do not understand a question. Request clarification or rephrasing.
  5. Specify that you are guessing or estimating when you answer questions of which you are not certain of the answer.
  6. If you do not know the answer, say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” These are perfectly legitimate responses.
  7. Do not let opposing counsel get under your skin.
  8. Always accept the court reporter’s offer to read your deposition transcript before signing it. Not only can you spot errors in the transcription, but you can also change answers using an “errata sheet.”

Tips for Answering Questions at Your Car Accident Deposition

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another party, call Zanes Law personal injury lawyers at 866-499-8989. We will do everything from A to Z to get you the compensation you deserve.

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