Car accidents can be overwhelming, and the aftermath can seem even more terrifying when you do not know what to expect. When you are injured in a car accident, the first step you should take is having your attorney file a claim with the insurance company.
If a claim cannot be resolved with a settlement, then a lawsuit will be filed on your behalf. This step is known as the litigation process. The litigation process is court based, and in it, you might have to participate in a question-to answer hearing known as a deposition.
During a deposition session, a defense or insurance company’s lawyer asks you about your background and the circumstances of your case. Generally, your Deposition is held after your lawsuit has already been filed. It is usually held in either your lawyer’s office or the defense lawyer’s office.
Note that there will be a court reporter present to transcribe all of the testimony. Although informal, your Deposition is very important because all of your testimony is taken under oath, transcribed, and can be used to contradict your testimony at trial.
Many people are curious about what to expect during this questioning, because it can be seem quite intimidating – especially if you have never witnessed or have personally gone through something like this before.
You Will Be Generally Questioned in Four Different Areas.
First, you will be asked about yourself and your background. It may seem that these questions have nothing to do with the facts of the incident or your injury, nevertheless they are appropriate.
The defense lawyer has the right to question you about anything that is “relevant” to any part of your case, or may lead to something that “may be relevant” to any part of your case. Relevant evidence is defined as evidence that makes a fact more or less likely to be true than it would be without the evidence. This means that the standard for relevance is very loose.
This is because most questions can possibly lead to relevant evidence. Therefore, questions about where you grew up, went to school, worked, and who you married, are appropriate because they can potentially lead to other evidence, which may in turn make a fact in your case more or less likely true.
It is important to note that just because something is asked at a Deposition does not mean it will be used later at trial. The standard for admissibility at trial is much stricter than at a Deposition.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that if your lawyer objects to the question and instructs you not to answer – don’t answer. If your lawyer does not object, and he or she is not asleep, then you should probably answer the question.
The second area about which you will be questioned is your state of health before the accident. It is very important that you pay attention to the questions that you are being asked.
The defense lawyer is not simply curious about how you feel – it is his or her job to go on a fishing expedition in your past health, and try to find any prior injury that is similar to the one being claimed in your present case. If the defense lawyer does find such an injury, she or he will present a defense at trial claiming that your injuries were not caused by this incident, but were pre-existing.
The third area of questioning will involve the facts of your loss. If your loss is a Car Accident, the questions will center on the facts leading up to the wreck. If the loss were a Slip, Trip and Fall, the questions would focus on where you were walking and where you were looking.
The final area of questioning will focus on your Injury and its consequences. You will be asked about the degree and frequency of pain, your medical care, and everyday things that you either cannot do altogether or are limited in doing as a result of your injury.
Beware: all of these questions are designed either to shift some or all of the blame for the defendant’s negligent conduct on you, or to minimize your injury. Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer at The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C., stand ready to protect you and defend your rights at your Deposition. Call us today for a free consultation at 215-673-7733.