A deposition is an intimidating, stressful experience but an obligatory step in a personal injury case. Knowing what to expect before and after the deposition can help people feel prepared.
Schmidt & Clark personal injury attorneys have handled thousands of personal injury cases for two decades, and we’ve successfully prepared our clients for depositions.
Today, we’ll explain everything that can happen after a deposition.
Summary of the Key Findings
- Both parties have to answer questions during a deposition.
- There are steps that happen after deposition to get other evidence or reach a settlement.
- If a settlement isn’t reached, the case goes to trial.
What Does a Deposition Look Like?
A deposition looks like an interview, and it's a part of the discovery process, which includes an exchange of information and written questions.
A deposition in a personal injury case is a recorded interview done to evaluate the person’s knowledge of the case. It happens after a claim is filed and before the trial.
This is sworn testimony .
“At a deposition, a person appears at a specified time and place and gives sworn testimony—under oath, usually with a court reporter present so that a record is made.” AllLaw
A deposition in a personal injury case isn’t held in court.
However, a court reporter is present to record it, and lawyers from both sides ask questions.
A deposition can be:
- Interrogatory deposition — The individual is questioned in person.
- Written deposition — Questions are submitted in advance, and the deponent or a witness answers them in witness testimony.
Lawyers ask questions to find out more about the injury.
You can be asked about your employment history and medical background, as well as answer questions related to the case, such as :
- Describe the injuries you suffered.
- How were the injuries treated?
- Describe the events leading to the accident.
- How did the injuries affect your life and ability to work?
It’s important to remember you’re under oath, so you have to be truthful in your answers and not guess.
A good lawyer should prepare you before the deposition so that you know how to answer all the questions the other side throws at you and explain what happens after a deposition.
7 Steps After a Deposition
Here’s everything that happens after a deposition:
1. Transcript Review
The reporter records everything that’s said during the deposition, including both questions and answers.
The reporter prepares a record using a recording device, hand-held microphone, or by taking notes. The report has to be verbatim, and once it’s ready, lawyers from both sides will review it.
Usually, your personal injury attorney will sit down and go through the report with you.
If there are any inaccuracies, such as if you misspoke during the deposition, you should let the attorney know so they can notify the court.
2. Lawyer Evaluation
After the deposition review, the lawyer can tell you how they think the deposition will impact the case; positively, negatively, or both.
After reviewing the deposition, the attorney will know what to expect from your case.
The lawyer will also check for inaccuracies in the other party’s testimony to prove they lied under oath. The lawyer doesn’t want any inaccurate information to be included, as it could affect the compensation you get from the insurance company.
Sometimes, the attorney can decide that a second deposition, more witnesses, or further investigation and gathering more evidence are needed.
3. Medical Examinations
The other side has the right to request an independent medical examination. This is a standard procedure for evaluating accident damages.
It means the doctor, other than the one you’ve been seeing, will evaluate your condition and injuries and give their opinion of how the injuries impact your life.
The insurance company can compare this assessment to the one your doctor provided to decrease the compensation.
The attorney should also prepare you for this exam and tell you which information to share. You want to make sure the doctor doesn’t downplay your injuries or blame you for them.
4. After Discovery Phase
Once the discovery phase, including depositions, is over, all parties involved have all the information they need. Your lawyer will evaluate the case and how much compensation you can get.
Then, it’s time to decide if you go to trial or settle the car accident case.
Before a personal injury claim is settled, there are likely to be several rounds of negotiation.
The first negotiation round with the other party usually happens right after the accident.
The insurance company can give you a settlement offer, and you can accept this offer and avoid all the future steps of personal injury claims. However, this is likely a lower offer than what’s due to you.
If the first offer is declined, the attorney can demand the funds you deserve. This is based on your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
The insurance can either accept or give its own offer. Your lawyer will help you carefully review each offer during the negotiation.
You have the right to accept the opposing party's offer at any time, which will close the personal injury case.
Related Article: Increase the Odds of Winning Your Workers’ Compensation Case
If you and the opposing counsel can’t come to an agreement after several rounds of negotiation, a mediation session happens.
You’ll have a meeting with the insurance representative and a mediator. Usually, a judge is a mediator.
The mediator has to have a knowledge of personal injury law and help you and the negligent party know your rights and what the court is likely to decide.
Both parties gather information and present it during the mediation. The lawyer should prepare you for the mediation and explain what to expect.
Finally, the mediator can recommend a settlement offer, which you can, but don’t have to accept.
Related Article: How to Deal With an Insurance Adjuster?
If an agreement isn’t reached during negotiation and mediation, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Both parties will present their case with supporting evidence and closing arguments during a personal injury trial.
After this, the court makes a ruling, and all parties must act accordingly.
Is there always a trial after a deposition?
No, there isn’t always a trial after a deposition. Most cases end with a settlement after the deposition is finished.
Hire an Experienced Lawyer to Guide You Through the Deposition Process
The most important thing to do during and after the deposition is to have legal representation.
A deposition is a legal process, and a lawyer can explain what to expect and give you valuable information and preparation on how to provide answers without giving excess information.
Law firm Schmidt & Clark provides free legal consultation. We value every attorney-client relationship and can help you get the settlement you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation.