What Happens After a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case?
Most personal injury claims, including car accidents and other cases involving harm caused by a liable party, are resolved through negotiations with the insurance company. However, an insurance company may undervalue a claim and refuse to negotiate a fair settlement.
In this situation, it may be necessary to pursue compensation for damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. One step of the lawsuit process is to give a deposition.
Understanding what happens during and after a deposition can help you feel more comfortable with this stage of the legal process.
The experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyers at Harker Injury Law are here to lend you a helping hand and answer questions about the process ahead of you. We can get you through every stage of a personal injury lawsuit, including the deposition. Keep reading to learn more about what depositions involve.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition takes place during the discovery phase of a personal injury case. During the discovery process, both parties involved in the lawsuit have an opportunity to collect evidence and information about each other’s causes of action and defenses.
The discovery phase can include:
- Written questions
- Exchanges of documents
Depositions are interviews conducted outside of court with someone who may have facts relevant to the case at hand. Typically, this interview will be conducted under oath, and the questions will be asked by a lawyer and recorded.
After the deposition, both sides are allowed to hear what was said. If requested, the recording may be later transcribed or duplicated for use in court.
How Attorneys Can Help You Prepare for a Deposition
The idea of having to give a deposition can cause anxiety, especially when you are already recovering from an accident and injuries. When you hire a personal injury attorney to represent your case, you can have peace of mind from knowing that you do not have to go through the deposition testimony process alone.
The following are some of the ways an attorney can help you prepare for depositions:
- Anticipate the other party’s line of questioning: While your lawyer cannot guarantee exactly what questions you will be asked, he can anticipate the defendant’s line of questioning and prepare you accordingly. Your lawyer will work hard to ensure you are not caught off guard by any questions.
- Help you answer confidently: Your attorney will advise you to answer honestly. However, a lack of confidence in your replies can make it appear that you are lying or concealing some of the facts. For this reason, your attorney will work with you so you can answer all deposition questions confidently.
- Rehearsing the deposition process by conducting mock interviews: Your attorney may go through a mock deposition with you to practice your answers and reactions to potential questions.
Questions Asked in a Deposition
During a deposition, the other party’s personal injury attorney will ask you questions about the relevant facts, details, and circumstances of your case to collect information. Your lawyer and a court reporter will also likely be present.
You are under oath during a deposition, so it is important to answer all questions honestly to the best of your ability. Having a general idea of what questions will be asked during a deposition can help calm your nerves about being deposed.
The following are some questions that are commonly asked during a deposition:
- What is your full name, address, and date of birth?
- What is your educational background?
- What is your job history? Are you currently employed?
- What is your medical background? Have you had prior injuries?
- Have you filed personal injury lawsuits in the past?
- When and how did the accident occur?
- What happened prior to the accident?
- Were there any witnesses to the accident?
- Do you have photos, videos, or other physical evidence of the accident?
- What injuries were caused by the accident?
- What medical treatment have you received?
- Have you been forced to miss work?
- How are your injuries affecting your daily life?
These are just some of the questions you may be asked when giving your sworn testimony. When you have an experienced attorney on your side, you do not have to be overly nervous during the deposition. Your attorney will protect your legal rights.
How Long Is a Deposition in a Personal Injury Accident Case?
The length of time it takes to conduct a deposition hearing can vary greatly. Most depositions are conducted within a few hours, but a deposition could take days in some personal injury cases.
Factors that could determine the duration of a deposition include:
- The complexity of the injury case
- The experience of the attorneys involved
- The number of witnesses deposed
- The preparedness of each witness
- The scope of the questions asked
What to Expect of a Personal Injury Case Following the Deposition
The following steps will give you an idea of what happens after a deposition. At this point, the lawsuit is already filed, but out-of-court negotiations must take place before the case reaches the point of going to trial, if necessary.
The court reporter provides a written transcript
During the deposition, a court reporter will create a record of everything said by either using a recording device or taking notes in shorthand.
After the deposition, the court reporter prepares an official transcript of everything said during the deposition. The transcript may take a few days or weeks to prepare, depending on the length of the deposition.
Once the official deposition transcript is complete:
- The reporter will provide the court and each party’s personal injury attorneys with copies
- Your lawyer will carefully review the transcript to ensure that it accurately reflects what was said during the interview, and;
- If errors were made, your lawyer can attempt to submit corrections to the court
An independent medical examination is requested
After the deposition, the other side may request that you get an independent medical examination. Your attorney can prepare you, helping you know what information to share with the doctor.
Another doctor, one other than who you have been seeing since the accident, will conduct the medical exam. After a full evaluation of your physical condition, the doctor will offer a full assessment of your injuries and how they impact each area of your life.
It is essential to be careful what you say during this exam and how much information you provide. The doctor may be trying to trap you into providing evidence that your injuries are not as bad as you claim or that they were not caused by the accident.
It is the goal of the other side to discover information during this medical exam that can be used to reduce the value of your personal injury claim. However, in some injury cases, the exam may work in your favor and provide further evidence linking your injuries to the other party’s negligence.
Both parties try to settle through negotiations
Most personal injury cases settle out of court. Typically, the attorney who represents the plaintiff (the injured party) will go through several rounds of negotiations with the insurance company and attorney representing the defendant (the liable party) before reaching an agreement.
Once the deposition and the rest of the discovery stage is complete, both parties should have a full understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Hopefully, with this information, a settlement can be negotiated without going to trial.
During each round of negotiations, you will have the option to either accept the settlement offer or decline it and move forward with the lawsuit.
An attempt is made to settle through mediation
If settlement negotiations remain unsuccessful, the next step may be to schedule an appointment with a mediator. During a mediation session, you and your accident attorney will sit down with the other party’s representatives and a mediator.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you create a plan of action before going in for the mediation session and give you an idea of what to expect.
The mediator acts as a neutral third party. The mediator may be a judge or former judge and will be knowledgeable in the state and federal laws applicable to your case. He or she will help you and the other party fully understand your legal rights and get an idea of the decision the court is likely to reach if you take the case to trial.
The goal of the mediator is to help you and the other party to come to a resolution without having to go to court. However, the mediator cannot force you into accepting a settlement. At the end of the mediation session, you can decide whether to settle or continue on to trial.
The case is taken to trial
Typically, it is to the benefit of everyone involved if a personal injury claim is settled out of court. In fact, statistics show that today only about 1 percent of all civil cases filed are resolved by going to trial.
Going to trial is time-consuming and often means additional legal fees. However, if a settlement agreement cannot be achieved through negotiation or mediation, your lawyer may recommend taking your accident case to trial.
During the trial, you can expect the following to take place:
- Both sides will present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury
- You and the party you are filing the claim against will likely be asked to give sworn testimony
- Your lawyer may have experts and other witnesses testify to support your case
- The deposition may also be referred to contradict or question witness testimony
- Closing arguments will be given by both parties and the jury will be left to deliberate
After hearing the case at trial, the jury or judge will make a ruling on the claim. The verdict will determine whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. If so, the amount of damages the injured party may receive will also be determined.
You receive payment for damages
After a settlement agreement has been reached with the insurance company or the court rules in your favor, you will receive payment for your personal injury accident claim. Typically, the liable party or the insurance company will have 30 days from the date of settlement or verdict to pay out the claim.
Your settlement may be paid out in one lump-sum payment or in increments over a period of time. How the settlement is paid is often left to the plaintiff to decide.
Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer to Recover Compensation After a Personal Injury Accident?
No, it is not required to hire an attorney to pursue compensation after being injured in a car accident or other personal injury accident. However, it is in your best interests to do so.
The deposition process can be complex, and this is just one of the many aspects of the personal injury claims process, as we discussed.
Hiring an accident injury attorney to represent your case allows you to:
- Focus on your recovery: Personal injury victims deserve to rest and heal after an accident. If you do not hire a lawyer, you may have to spend much of your time and energy on your personal injury claim or lawsuit instead.
- Have peace of mind: When you have an attorney representing your case, you have the peace of mind that you aren’t being taken advantage of by the insurance company and that you will receive the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.
- Avoid unnecessary stress: Being injured in an accident is already stressful without the added anxiety of having to file documents, negotiate with the insurance company, and navigate the legal process. When you have personal injury attorneys on your side, they will take care of every aspect of your legal case on your behalf, which will lessen your load.
Our Lawyers Can Help You Through Depositions
Navigating the complexities of personal injury cases or depositions on your own can be overwhelming. If you have suffered injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need a trusted lawyer on your side to defend your rights and interests.
At Harker Injury Law, every case we take on is important to us – no matter how small. We care about the people we represent and treat our clients like family.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is essential to protect your rights and maximize your chance to achieve a favorable outcome. Complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of the attorneys at Harker Injury Law.