When injured crash victims file a lawsuit to seek compensation for damages, they may have to give a car accident deposition. While participating in any official legal meeting may seem intimidating, depositions are a normal part of the process.
That said, how can you prepare for a car accident deposition? What questions will you be asked?
Below, Schmidt Kramer explains more about car accident depositions, including what you can expect and how you can prepare.
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What is a Car Accident Deposition?
Many victims worry that a car accident deposition means they have to go to court, but that is not necessary. Most of the time, a deposition happens in a more low-key environment, such as a law office.
Regardless of where your deposition occurs, however, it is an official legal step in your lawsuit and you should take it very seriously. During this meeting, you are sworn in, and then asked a series of formal questions that you must answer. A court reporter records your testimony, sometimes on video. Your deposition then gets transcribed into an official document. Both the plaintiff (injured victim) and defendant (at-fault party) receive a copy of the deposition.
What is the Purpose of a Car Accident Deposition
For you, as the plaintiff, it is an opportunity to tell your side of the story. This is also where available documents about the case are authenticated.
For the defendant, a deposition helps to provide insight and clarity about a case. The defendant’s attorney learns more about the details of the case and the plaintiff. It also helps the other side gain more insight about the potential strength of the case.
The defendant’s attorney will assess you while you respond to each question and determine if you seem credible. Unprepared plaintiffs often ramble, seem unsure about details or worse still, unknowingly reveal unnecessary facts or say things that damage their credibility.
If you have an experienced attorney representing you, he or she will properly prepare you. You will know what to expect and how to respond in a way that supports and strengthens your case.
What Types of Questions Get Asked in a Car Accident Deposition?
The defendant’s attorney will ask you a series of questions. Each question in a car accident deposition has a purpose. The other side wants to get more background information about you, as well as the accident that caused your injuries. Regardless of what questions you get asked, it is important to remember that the at-fault party’s attorney will have an agenda. This means he or she will be asking you very focused questions.
Overall, the questions you may be asked generally cover certain areas, such as:
General Background Information
You will need to provide your name, date of birth, marital status, where you live and work, details about your occupation and answers to other relevant questions.
Physical and Medical Condition Prior to the Accident
This is an area where many injured victims may be tempted to leave critical details out. For instance, if you previously injured your back while playing sports or you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Not being honest, even regarding preexisting injuries or medical conditions, will backfire and do a lot of harm to your case.
Background of Any Criminal Activity
The defendant’s attorney wants to find ways to discredit you or devalue your claim. Discovering details of prior DUIs or other types of criminal history would greatly help the other side. Again, honesty is critical here. However, your attorney will help you understand what you need to share and how to share it.
Details About the Accident
This is where you will need to provide testimony about how the accident occurred, including the events leading up to the collision. We cannot stress enough that while you must provide the facts, you should not ramble on with non-important details. Additionally, do not try to guess certain things in your testimony. For example, do not try to guess how fast the other driver was going. That is the crash investigator’s job.
Injuries You Sustained
The other side will ask questions about your injuries, including their severity and how they affect your daily life. When discussing your injuries, never exaggerate. This is another common mistake crash victims make. That said, you should also not downplay your injuries. Perhaps you do have “only” a soft-tissue injury. However, if that whiplash or other soft-tissue injury is preventing you from working or enjoying activities you used to do, it is significant.
How Should Plaintiffs Behave in a Car Accident Deposition?
It may seem unnecessary to say this, but many crash victims mistakenly believe their conduct at a car accident deposition is unimportant. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The attorney for the defendant is on a hunting expedition. His or her goal is to find ways to cast doubt on your testimony or even fully discredit you. The insurance company does not want to pay you the full value of your claim. Doing so cuts into their bottom line and reduces their profit.
This is why the defendant’s attorney will look for holes in your story and will even be watching your face to see how you respond.
We strongly encourage crash victims attending a car accident deposition to:
- Dress professionally: A brand new suit is not necessary, but business attire that is pressed, clean and neat presents a good first impression.
- Be polite and professional: Conducting yourself professionally and answering politely strengthens your credibility.
- Arrive on time – Being late for your deposition can set you off on the wrong foot. Plan to be on time, or better still, be early.
- Prepare well in advance: Even though you were there for the accident, it is easy to forget details. This is why we tell victims to keep an injury journal after an accident. However, you can also review documents, such as the police report, medical bills and more, to refresh your memory on the chain of events.
- Take your time before answering: It is okay to take a minute to think about how you want to respond. Rushing to reply out of nervousness often causes victims to ramble too much.
- Do not pretend to know something: It is okay to respond with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” if that is the truth. Saying this is better than trying to fumble around with a guess.
- Be consistent: The defendant’s attorney will likely ask you for the same information multiple times, but they will frame it in different ways. This is a common tactic to try to catch plaintiffs who are not being truthful.
- Tell the truth: Being dishonest or exaggerating will backfire, harm your credibility and do a lot of damage to your case.
Injured in a Crash and Need Legal Help? Call Our Firm Today
We have the resources and a team of legal professionals who are committed to helping the injured. While most cases settle out of court, we are always ready to represent you if the need arises. This includes helping to prepare you to give a car accident deposition.
Our firm has recovered over a hundred million in compensation for our clients. We are ready to fight for the maximum possible compensation on your behalf.
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