What Happens in a Deposition For an Auto Accident Claim?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on January 6, 2023 and updated on February 1, 2023.

lawyers at conference tableOne of the reasons crash victims hesitate to contact an attorney is because they think an attorney will need to file a lawsuit. The thought of answering questions in a courtroom makes many people anxious.

However, crash victims may also need to answer questions in a deposition before the trial begins. A deposition provides an opportunity to explore the facts of a case – insurance companies are hoping you will say something they can use against you at trial.

While crash victims cannot win their case in a deposition, they can certainly hurt their chances of recovering full compensation for their damages. That is why victims need to be prepared. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help you prepare for a deposition.

The Maryland auto accident lawyers at Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices are ready to help you seek compensation for all the damages you suffered. Our services come with no upfront costs or fees. We do not get paid unless you get paid.

Contact us for legal assistance after a crash: 410-401-9979.

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is sort of like an interview, except you are providing testimony under oath. A court reporter will be present to keep a record of what you say – sometimes depositions are recorded. Your attorney and the attorney(s) for the insurance company will also be present.

Depositions are often done at a law office. Sometimes they are done at the subject’s home.

Only one deposition can be conducted at a time. That means you are not going to be deposed at the same time as someone else.

While one of the most important depositions is the one with the victim, attorneys and insurance companies often want to depose:

  • Witnesses
  • Passengers
  • Doctors and other medical professionals
  • First responders
  • The other driver

The statements you make can and will be used at trial, especially if the statements you made in a deposition conflict with statements you make at trial.

Preparing for a Deposition

It is vital to hire an experienced lawyer to represent you after a car crash, especially one who is prepared to go to trial because he or she has done so before. A lawyer with this experience will be able to prepare you for your deposition.

Preparation for a deposition involves reviewing relevant documents, such as the police report, medical records and any statements you made to the insurance company. The insurance company likely already submitted interrogatories, which are questions about the case that you are required to answer. Your attorney will review this with you to help refresh your memory about what happened in the crash and statements you have already made.

Your attorney will also review how to answer questions so you only provide the information you need to provide and nothing more.

What Questions Are You Going to Be Asked in a Deposition?

Even though each case is different, the deposition of a car accident victim is likely to involve certain questions. The first few questions in a deposition are probably going to be about your background, such as your name and occupation.

Crash victims are also going to be asked about:

  • How the accident happened
  • What you did after the crash
  • How the crash has impacted your life (health, daily activities, your job, relationships with family members, etc.)
  • The damages you suffered
  • Any preexisting medical issues you had before the crash
  • If you were operating your vehicle in a safe manner before the collision

No matter your injury, the insurance company is going to ask whether you had a preexisting condition. If you suffered a spinal cord injury in the crash, the insurance company may ask if you were already dealing with a back or spinal cord problem at the time of the crash.

The insurance company wants you to talk about your injury because they are hoping you will exaggerate your symptoms, downplay the severity of your injury, or say something that is inconsistent with what is written in your medical records. Your statements about your injury are particularly important if you have a soft-tissue injury that is not visible on an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.

You also need to be careful when discussing the accident. You need to make sure your statements are consistent with what you have said in the past.

Protecting Your Claim While Answering Questions

There are some general rules to follow in a deposition. For example, you do not need to state your opinions about the different aspects of your claim, including your injuries, the crash, how your injuries have affected your life, or the actions of the at-fault driver.

It is important to stick to the facts when answering questions. Try to provide the most straightforward answer you can. If you are unsure about what the insurance company wants to know, ask them to restate the question or ask for clarification.

You do not need to rush to provide answers. You also need to avoid providing information that was not requested. You may think you are just being helpful, but your statements could come back to hurt your claim.

Nonverbal communication is also important. For example, you want to come across as credible and likable. You need to be well-dressed and well-groomed. Make sure to arrive for the deposition on time. There is no need to be combative with the insurance company. They are going to be nice to you so you should politely answer their questions.

Be prepared for the insurance company to go fishing for information. The insurance company wants to try to catch you off guard so you may say something that hurts the value of your claim.

Contact Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices to Discuss Your Crash

Have you been injured in a crash you believe was caused by another driver’s recklessness?

You may be eligible to seek compensation for damages caused by your injuries. At Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices, there are no upfront fees or legal obligations with our services. We do not get paid unless you get paid.

We have secured millions on behalf of crash victims. Call 410-401-9979.