A lawsuit has been filed in a car accident case; the next step is developing your case. One of the key steps in developing your case is through a process called “discovery”. This is the legal means through which parties to a lawsuit obtain useful information from each other to aid in the case. One type of discovery is called a “deposition”. It is an out-of-court testimony, given under oath. The person giving the testimony is referred to as the “deponent”. Deposition is similar to an interrogation, but the questioning is done in person.
Deposition testimony can be used as evidence at trial in order to impeach that witness i.e., lower his or her credibility in the eyes of the jury, should the trial testimony be significantly different from the deposition testimony. Let us look at depositions in car accident injury cases.
Persons Required to Attend a Deposition
Generally, the person being deposed, the parties to the lawsuit, attorneys for the parties and a person qualified to administer oaths, are the people needed in a deposition. A court reporter is usually the person who administers oaths. He/she records all testimony given at the deposition and prepares a written transcript of the deposition upon request. Usually, the court reporter’s time is paid for, as well as production of the transcript. Typically, the judge and court personnel are not directly involved in the deposition.
You May be Deposed by the Defendant’s Side
When filing a personal injury lawsuit, you are nearly guaranteed that the defendant or his attorney will ask to take your deposition. The procedural rules governing civil lawsuits vary from state to state, but typically require that parties to a lawsuit participate in a deposition if the other party has requested it.
Defense counsel is required to work with you to find a date and time convenient for you, as long as you are reasonable in your requests. A personal injury lawyer, if you have one, can assist you in preparing for the deposition, but it is not a requirement that you be represented by counsel.
Expect to be asked many questions by the defendant or his attorney during your deposition. Many of these questions seek background or personal information about you, including your name, address, immediate family members, and whether you have taken any medications that day.
The defendant’s attorney will ask you to testify your recollection of events about the car accident.
Deposing the Defendant
This is the chance for the plaintiff to speak to the defendant to seek information from him or her regarding the events that led to the car accident. This is also the chance to ascertain the type of witness the defendant will be at trial. Obtain basic information about the defendant’s identity and confirm the identity of the person who was driving the car that hit you as well as the owner of the car. Ask the defendant to state, in detail, the events that led to the car crash and his or her version of how the event unfolded. Find out if the defendant is aware of any witnesses. Try to find out any information that might indicate the defendant was being reckless.
Also, consider deposing any witnesses to the accident, any treating medical providers, and any medical providers the defense intends to call.