When someone is hurt in a car accident, they typically have the right to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for damages. Unfortunately, insurers often offer a much lower settlement (or deny the claim altogether). If this happens, you may need to file a lawsuit.
The deposition happens during the discovery phase of an Atlanta car accident case and is a crucial part of the legal process. You should not undergo a deposition without an attorney present. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your next steps.
What Is a Deposition in a Car Accident Case?
There are four main stages in a car accident lawsuit:
A deposition is a hearing that happens during the discovery phase of an accident claim. During the deposition, which happens outside of court, a party to the witness or case gives their testimony under oath.
If you are the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit), your lawyer will question the deposed person. The deposition allows both sides to hear what is said.
Lawyers for each party can hear all accounts of what happened, assess the testimony’s strength, and determine how a jury or judge might feel about the witness. This is important information for both sides to take into the lawsuit.
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Do You Need a Lawyer To Be Present During Your Deposition?
Having a car accident attorney during your deposition is a good idea. If you try to do it alone, you may not know whether the question the other side is asking is overstepping its bounds. Your personal injury attorney can direct you not to answer questions that could work against you and your case.
How Long Does an Atlanta Car Accident Deposition Take?
Generally, a deposition can last from a few hours to days, depending on the circumstances. The duration can vary depending on several factors, such as:
- The complexity of the case
- The number of witnesses
- How long witness testimonies take
- The scope of the questions asked
While some depositions may be completed in a single day, others may require multiple sessions spread over several days or weeks. Ultimately, the length of a deposition in a car accident case will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the extent of the information to be gathered.
Is There Always Mediation After a Deposition?
Mediation is a common alternative dispute resolution used in many legal cases, including personal injury cases. However, it is not mandatory, and the decision to pursue mediation will depend on the case’s circumstances and the parties’ preferences.
While there can be informal mediation throughout the litigation process, formal mediation (with a third-party mediator) is usually the last stage before trial.
Whether mediation follows a deposition will depend on the individual circumstances of the case and the strategies pursued by the parties involved.
How Long After Deposition Is Mediation?
There isn’t a general deadline for scheduling mediation after the deposition. This can take place days or even months after the previous stage ends. The timing of mediation after a deposition will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the availability of the parties and the mediator.
Generally, mediation happens after the parties have had an opportunity to review the information gathered during the discovery process, which includes the deposition testimony.
This allows the parties to better understand their case’s strengths and weaknesses and facilitate productive negotiations during the mediation process.
What Happens After the Deposition in a Car Crash Lawsuit?
After the deposition, several things occur that are crucial to the lawsuit. You can expect the following steps after a deposition.
A Court Reporter Prepares a Transcript
By law and as part of the federal court reporting program, any court session or proceeding must be recorded verbatim by a court reporter. Therefore, a court reporter will typically record all testimonies during the deposition in shorthand.
They might also use a recorder, hand-held microphone, or typewriter-like device known as a stenotype. After the deposition is over, the reporter will prepare a legible transcript. It might take a few weeks. This transcript is important for both sides in the remainder of the case.
Both Parties Review the Transcript
After the transcript is created, both sides will get a copy. Each lawyer will carefully review these. Your lawyer will review the details with you and look for errors or conflicting information. This is your chance to speak up and tell your attorney if you notice any misinformation or mistakes in what was said.
Sometimes, an attorney may determine from the information that another witness needs to be heard, which would call for the scheduling of another deposition hearing.
Your Lawyer Makes an Evaluation
When your lawyer has finished reviewing your deposition, they will let you know how they believe it can affect your case. That includes the good and the bad, so be prepared for honesty. If your deposition has missing pieces, your lawyer may call for more witnesses to depose.
Medical Examinations Might Be Requested
Once your deposition is over, the other side may ask you to get an “independent medical examination.” This is especially common when bringing a lawsuit for car accident damages. Your attorney will prepare you for the examination if it is requested.
The insurance company will typically choose the doctor you see for the medical exam. They might make it seem like it will be unbiased, but that’s rarely the case. Instead, the doctor may try to minimize how bad your injuries are or look for other explanations for them besides the accident.
Your lawyer knows about this tactic, so they will:
- Prep you not to give the doctor excess information
- Have your personal doctor write a report on your injuries and how they have affected you
- Collect all reports that can be used for settlement negotiation
The Trial Happens (or a Settlement Is Agreed Upon)
After the deposition and medical examinations are completed, your personal injury lawyer will keep negotiating with the insurance company. The goal is to reach an agreement on a fair settlement amount without the need to go to trial.
The negotiation period can be lengthy. A lot of investigation is involved, and your lawyer will call on all available resources to prove your version of events. If the insurance company sends a settlement offer, your lawyer will discuss whether it is fair to you.
An attorney can provide their professional opinion on what you should do, but the decision to settle or not is ultimately yours.
- If you agree to a settlement offer, you will receive a settlement check, ending the case. No future cases pertaining to this accident may be opened.
- If the insurance company does not offer a settlement you believe is fair, your lawyer will discuss proceeding to trial.
What Happens if You Go to Trial After a Car Accident Deposition?
Going to trial is a big decision, so you and your lawyer must discuss the pros and cons. They will also give their opinion on your chances of winning. If you go to trial, your lawyer will start preparing for it immediately.
During the actual trial, you and the party you are suing will both give testimony. There will likely also be a witness and expert testimony to support your claim. The deposition may also be used during the trial to question or contradict witness statements.
When both sides have presented their case, a jury will hear all the information and give its verdict. If you and your lawyer win at trial, you will be awarded a set amount for your damages.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your Car Accident Case for Free
If you are in a car accident and have to give a deposition, you will need an experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer. Every step of the legal process may help or hurt your case. So don’t try to go it alone.
For over 20 years, John Foy & Associates has been helping car accident victims win the recovery they need to compensate for their costs and rebuild their lives.
Call us today if you need help or have questions about your case. We’ll review the details and discuss the best action plan for your situation. Contact us to schedule your free consultation now.