In many car accident cases, a victim will have to attend a deposition during which he or she is asked a series of questions under oath. These questions are usually asked by an insurance company’s attorney in the presence of a court reporter. If the victim has retained legal counsel, his or her attorney will also be present and can object to certain questions and advise the victim as to his or her legal rights.
Depositions are subject to certain legal rules, and victims can take steps to prepare for their deposition in order to make sure they are not caught off guard by certain questions or say things that may improperly concede liability or otherwise jeopardize their ability to recover compensation. Some of the things car accident victims can do to ensure their deposition goes as smoothly as possible are detailed below.
One of the most basic and important steps car accident victims should take to prepare for a deposition is to refresh their memory as to how and under what circumstances the accident took place. This can involve looking at pictures, reading the police report, talking to eyewitnesses or passengers, or simply going over the accident in their mind.
While no two car accidents are the same, there are issues that tend to pop up again and again in car accident litigation. For this reason, most lawyers and law firms have developed a set of standard questions they ask car accident victims. If you’ve retained an experienced lawyer, he or she can go over the standard car accident deposition questions so you’ll know what to expect and can be prepared ahead of time to answer these questions.
In many cases, car accident victims who are being deposed have already responded to written questions called interrogatories or made verbal statements to law enforcement or insurance companies investigating the accident. The attorney conducting the deposition will likely be able to access these statements. Because inconsistent statements can cast doubt on the truthfulness of a person’s testimony, it is important for car accident victims to thoroughly review their prior statements in order to prevent confusion or mistakes caused by fast-paced or aggressive questioning.
It is impossible to accurately answer a question that you do not fully understand. For this reason, it is important to make sure you thoroughly understand a question before you begin answering it. If you do not understand a question, ask the person posing the question to rephrase it or clarify what information he or she is seeking. While the questioner may seem annoyed or impatient with requests to clarify what is being asked, it is better to ensure you are answering a question you understand rather than provide information to a question that has not been asked.
As a car accident victim who is being deposed, you can often feel like you’re being attacked and have no control in the situation. By taking your time between a question being posed and providing an answer, you can control the pace of the deposition and allow your attorney an opportunity to object to questions that are improper. Furthermore, taking your time allows you to gather your thoughts, which can help you avoid saying things that may inappropriately concede facts or indicate liability for the accident.
It is important for car accident victims who are being deposed to refrain from providing more information than is required to answer a question. For example, if a questioner asks where you were going when the accident occurred, simply provide an address rather than explaining the purpose of your visit to that particular location.
Relatedly, many people who are being deposed have the desire to answer all of the questions asked, even if they are not sure of the answer. If you do not know the answer to a question, simply state that you do not know – guessing or making up facts to fill in gaps in your knowledge can have a negative impact on the perceived truthfulness of the rest of your testimony.
The majority of attorneys who conduct depositions on behalf of insurance companies are polite and professional. That being said, they are required to represent the interests of their client and may take a sarcastic tone or make it clear through their facial expressions that they do not believe a particular piece of testimony. In addition, some questions may be phrased in such a way so as to indicate that any disagreement with the premise contained in the question would be viewed as a lie.
Remember that this is not personal and the questioner is simply doing his or her job. In addition, there is a good chance that if you allow the questioner to upset you or break your concentration, you may say or do something that weakens your case. In fact, in some cases, this may be an intentional tactic. It is important to remember to stay calm and discuss any concerns you may have with your attorney.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be able to recover significant compensation. In many cases, before recovering compensation, you will be required to go through a deposition during which you will be asked questions pertaining to the accident. The answers to these questions may have a significant impact on your ultimate recovery.
As a result, it is important to retain an experienced attorney who will prepare you for your deposition and represent your legal rights during it. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced California car accident lawyer, call our office today at 866-218-3776 or send us an email through our online contact form.