Car accident depositions occur during the discovery phase of a civil suit — the part where each side gets the chance to gather evidence and investigate the sequence of events that lead to the accident. Discovery also involves measuring the extent of injuries and losses, so plaintiffs will know how much compensation to ask for in repayment for their injuries and hardship.
Of the evidence gathered during the discovery phase, statements made during deposition stand as some of the most important. Learn more about what makes depositions so critical and how the typical process works by reading on.
The Importance of Car Accident Depositions
During a deposition, attorney representatives will ask questions of the participant, and the participant’s responses will be recorded on video, audio, by a court stenographer or a combination thereof. Any statements made are done so under oath. Anyone who makes statements under oath that knowingly misrepresent facts or attempt to deceive the court could be found guilty of perjury.
For this reason, deposition statements hold particular evidentiary weight in civil cases, allowing both sides to construct arguments based on what they learn during discovery. Depositions also allow attorneys to weigh the importance of witnesses they may call to testify during the actual trial. For these reasons, depositions have been widely used for a long time and are considered critical to building cases.
What follows is the typical process for conducting depositions during a car accident case.
Motion for Case Is Filed, Car Accident Deposition Participants Are Called
At the beginning of the case, both the defendant and the plaintiff can request individuals to appear for a deposition. According to O.C. §12-3230, these individuals could be subpoenaed, which means that if they fail to appear that they could face court penalties.
The types of participants called vary according to the investigative and strategic goals of the attorneys, but they will typically include:
- Witnesses to the accident
- Police officers who responded to the accident scene or participated in the police investigation of the accident
- Car accident expert consultants, who often have a background in physics, vehicle systems and forensic science
- Medical experts who can interpret imaging and other documentation of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The treating physician for the plaintiff
- Family members, friends, co-workers and other people close to the plaintiff, who testify about how the plaintiff’s injuries affect their life
- The plaintiff or defendant themselves
These individuals can only be requested to appear at a deposition within a reasonable distance from their residence, and they must be given at least three days notice to prepare.
Car Accident Deposition Procedure
At a deposition, an officer of the court will swear in any individuals giving testimony, who are known as the deposed. The summoning attorney will then ask questions of the individual. Responses are recorded by a court stenographer, and additional recording devices may be used.
After the deposed answers question asked by the attorney who summoned them, the other attorney may have the opportunity to ask questions of their own, a technique known as “cross examining” the witness.
Once all information is gathered, the deposed may then leave. Their testimony will likely be read or played back to the court during trial, or the deposed may reappear as a trial witness to confirm statements made during deposition.
Hire an Experienced Oklahoma City Car Accident Attorney
Experienced personal injury attorneys know the people that should be summoned for a deposition and the types of questions that should be asked of them. By recording these responses, they can build a convincing argument on behalf of their client, backed by evidence recorded under oath.