What Is a Deposition and How It Helps Your Car Accident Case
The deposition of the at-fault driver is one of the most crucial phases of your car accident case. Your lawyer will ask a series of questions to the defendant driver in an attempt to undermine his credibility as a witness. Your lawyer will ask specific deposition questions in an attempt to persuade the defendant driver that the accident was his fault rather than your fault.
What is a deposition?
A deposition is a means of gathering information for a case. The only people present are your attorney, the at-fault driver’s attorney, and a court reporter who will type everything said during the deposition. Both you and the defendant driver are asked questions, and in sworn testimony, you will provide answers to those questions. Deposition testimony is given outside of the courtroom, rather than in front of a judge and jury. A court reporter types out every word said by the witnesses and attorneys. As sworn testimony, it will be used in court if the trial testimony differs or is modified from the sworn testimony.
Your responses are sworn statements made under oath and under penalty of perjury. If you lie or try to change your answers during the trial, your answers will be used against you.
For example, in the deposition, a person testifies that she drove through the intersection and was certain the light was green. During her jury trial, she is asked the same question by the defendant’s attorney, and she responds that she does not know whether the light she passed through was red or green. The other driver’s attorney will read from the transcript to compare her deposition answer to how she just testified. Imagine how this would appear to a jury, and how it would undermine her credibility if the answers did not match.
How will your lawyer effectively take the other driver’s deposition?
Naturally, your lawyer wants to make the defendant driver uncomfortable in order to obtain the testimony you require. If your attorney simply asks the defendant driver about his background, his children, his education, his work, and has the defendant driver describe the accident in his or her own words, this will get you nowhere and will certainly not help your accident claim. Expect the attorney to ask pointed questions to the defendant in order to elicit a “yes” or “no” response, as well as questions about documents that your attorney should be prepared to bring to the deposition.
Questions Your Lawyer Will Ask the At-Fault Driver
At the deposition, your car accident lawyer will effectively question the defendant driver with questions such as these:
- How many times did the defendant driver speak with his attorney prior to the deposition
- How many times did the defendant driver meet with his attorney prior to the deposition
- Did the driver receive any traffic tickets as a result of the accident
- Question the other driver about what he told the police officer at the scene of the accident (many times, the police report will state that the defendant driver is at fault for the accident)
- Has the defendant ever driven on the road where the accident occurred before
- Where was the defendant driver coming from and going when the accident occurred
- How many other accidents did the driver have prior to this accident
- Inquire if the defendant had any prior criminal convictions
- Is the driver aware of the posted speed limit on the road where the accident occurred
- Present a favorable version of how the accident occurred, and have the defendant driver respond “yes” or “no” (many times, the defendant driver will agree with you)
- Inquire about the property damage to the vehicles involved in the accident
These questions are just a few of the many questions your attorney should ask the defendant driver during the deposition. Many times when questions are posed in a certain way, the other driver inevitably provides answers in your favor.
Experience counts when it comes to depositions
Remember that a deposition is not a conversation, but rather an interrogation by the opposing attorney designed to discredit you and diminish the value of your case. Lawyers each have their own style of questioning – some are friendly, some are pit bulls, some are passive-aggressive, and some are condescending. If your attorney has handled a number of accident cases, he will be familiar with the questioning style of the attorneys who regularly represent insurance companies and will prepare you accordingly.
Call for a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Baltimore Car Accident Case
The defendant driver’s deposition may be the most important event in your Baltimore area accident case. You need an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your lawsuit. John Leppler has taken over 300 depositions of defendant drivers in personal injury cases. Let the Law Office of John J. Leppler represent you and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call John at (443) 955-1989 for a free consultation.