A deposition is a formal question and answer process that occurs under oath. The lawyers for the defendants have the right to ask you ask questions about how the truck accident happened and about your claim for damages. Conversely, you have the right to question all the defendants and any witnesses about how the accident happened. In addition to your deposition, the defendants may conduct a deposition of your physician(s).
At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, we may conduct a practice deposition before the real deposition, so you know what to expect to help calm your nerves and anticipate the questions that are likely to be asked. The deposition of the parties and witnesses is often the heart and soul of your case. These questions are a way for us to understand the defendants’ version of what happened and for the defense to understand your version.
When and where is the deposition held?
After the complaint for your personal injury claim is filed and the defendants file their answers, the formal discovery phase of your personal injury claim begins. Depositions are normally held at either the office of one of the lawyers who is representing a party, such as our office, or at the local courthouse.
The discovery phase includes three basic parts. Each party can submit written discovery, called interrogatories and requests for admission, to the other parties. Each party can also request that the other parties provide certain documents relevant to your claim, such as insurance policy details and limits. Depositions are typically the third part of the discovery process.
Who appears at the deposition?
The people who will be present at your deposition are the plaintiff (you), the defendants, the lawyers for each person, and a court stenographer who records the testimony and later prepares a written record of the conversations. In addition, witnesses can be deposed, including eyewitnesses and anyone who has relevant information about the truck accident.
Normally, the other lawyers will ask you questions about how the accident happened, the injuries you have, and the medical treatments you are receiving. Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers will ask each defendant similar questions related to the accident. Also, depositions are not a trial. Normally, we will not ask you questions at your deposition, and likewise, the lawyers for the defendants will likely not ask their clients any questions.
How does a truck accident deposition differ from a car accident deposition?
Normally, in a car accident, there is just one defendant – the driver of the vehicle that struck you. In truck accident cases, however, there are normally multiple defendants. These defendants may include the driver of the truck, the owner of the truck, the shipping company that requested the delivery, the company that received the delivery, or a broker who arranged the shipment.
Truck accident depositions may be spread over several days or longer if some of the defendants don’t live in Georgia. In these cases, video depositions may be used to question out-of-state parties and witnesses. Witnesses, doctors, and other parties may also be deposed on video.
What questions are likely to be asked during a truck accident deposition?
Before the deposition takes place, we’ll review with you the dos and don’ts of participating in a deposition. For example, you should always listen to the full question and make sure you fully understand it before answering. Before answering, you should wait to see if we have an objection to the question. Generally, do not volunteer information to the defendants unless asked. Err on the side of saying less, not more. The defense lawyers can always ask another question if they think they need more information.
The questions you will be asked normally include the following:
- Questions about your identity and background – Your name, address, where your work, the type of car you drive, and where you were going at the time of the accident.
- Questions about the accident – How fast you were going, where you were in relation to the defendant’s vehicles, what the road conditions were like when the accident happened, what the weather was like when the truck accident happened, how many vehicles were involved in the accident, and other liability questions.
- Questions about your injuries – What doctors you saw, what surgeries you had, what treatments you’re undergoing, and how your injuries are affecting you.
- Questions about your non-medical damages – Where you work, how long you’ve been out of work, how much money you lost, the damage to your vehicle, and other questions.
What happens once the depositions are finished?
Once the discovery process is complete, we will then begin to discuss whether a settlement is possible, or if a jury trial is in your best interest. The depositions help show how strong or weak each party’s case is. They also help show just how much pain you are in and how much the truck accident has changed your life.
If the case cannot be settled, the case will proceed to trial in front of a jury. The responses of each party at the deposition can generally be used at the trial. For example, if a defendant says at trial he was traveling at 60 mph an hour, but said at the deposition he was traveling 75 mph, we may introduce his 75 mph statement to show he changed his answer while testifying under oath.
At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers are seasoned trial attorneys. We understand the art of conducting depositions. This includes preparing you for the deposition, focusing on the weaknesses in the defendants’ version of events, understanding how depositions affect the settlement of your case, and how they can be used to your benefit if there is a trial. To discuss your right to compensation after an Atlanta truck accident causes harm, call us or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation with our experienced truck accident lawyers.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.