What Is a Deposition in a Car Accident Case?

Car accident lawsuits often involve a deposition, which entails getting relevant information about the case from all parties involved, including plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses. A deposition in a car accident case can play a vital role in lawsuits and enable lawyers to build strong cases.

Woman with neck injury filling documents at insurance agency office. Deposition in a car accident case

If you get into a car accident and need to seek compensation from liable parties, reach out to the Chicago car accident attorneys at Ankin Law by calling 312-600-0000 and scheduling a free consultation.

What Is a Deposition?

Depositions are recorded interviews with parties involved in personal injury cases that take place during the discovery phase. Parties must engage in these interviews under oath and provide attorneys with pertinent information upon request.

During the deposition, attorneys will ask plaintiffs, defendants, or other deponents questions to learn about the nature of the accident, the evidence, and the resulting damages. When giving a deposition, a court reporter will also record the interview for use at a later time if the case goes to court.

Attorneys may ask questions and get information through interrogatories, requests for admissions, or requests for production. The process of deposition begins when a car accident lawyer sends the other party a subpoena, which notifies the recipient of the deposition and schedules a time and place to conduct the deposition.

Importance of Depositions in Car Accident Cases

Depositions are crucial to the discovery process of personal injury lawsuits, as they allow attorneys to collect enough information to support their clients’ cases. Attorneys on both sides of the case have the time to gather all the facts of the case and any helpful evidence at this time, which is why the discovery phase is often the longest in car accident cases.

Without thorough depositions, attorneys might not be able to effectively proceed with their cases.

What to Expect in a Deposition for Car Accident Cases

There are several aspects of depositions to consider. These include:

The Time and Place

The attorneys involved in the case will typically schedule depositions and determine a place to conduct them. In most cases, the attorney for the defendant will hold the deposition in his or her office, but depositions could also occur at the plaintiff’s attorney’s office or another formal location. Attorneys could schedule several depositions during the discovery phase.

Documentation That Applies to the Case

You should also expect to prepare all relevant documentation that could help your lawyer build a case and for which the defending attorney may ask. For example, you might bring the following to a deposition:

  • Medical reports and results from a formal medical exam
  • Copies of police reports
  • Photos or video footage you recorded of your injuries or the accident scene
  • Receipts for property damage, such as proof of repairs or replacements
  • Any witness statements collected
  • Correspondence with an insurance company

If any of this documentation is unavailable to you at the time of the deposition, your attorney may help obtain and produce it.

The Parties Present at the Deposition

Several key parties will appear at depositions, including yourself, your attorney, the defending attorney, and a court recorder, among others such as assistant attorneys. All communications typically go through the prosecuting and defending attorneys.

Your Own Testimony

When the defending attorney asks you about the case, your testimony will play a crucial role in determining how an accident occurred and resulted in the damages you sustained. Make sure your testimony is clear and honest, with as many details as possible.

If any part of your testimony is inaccurate or otherwise erroneous, the defending attorney might use it against you. For example, the details you provide about an accident and your injuries could lead the defense to believe that the accident didn’t directly cause your injuries or other damages. In other cases, defense attorneys might try to argue that their client wasn’t liable for the accident, which could compromise a case.

Remember, you are under oath when giving depositions, so it is critical for you to be truthful in your written or spoken testimony.

Common Challenges During a Deposition

During depositions, challenges may arise and complicate matters. These issues could include:

Witnesses Not Showing Up to the Deposition

In some instances, witnesses may fail to appear at the deposition on time or at all. In these cases, attorneys might communicate with each other to determine if and when the witness will appear or directly contact the witness. Attorneys may also choose to reschedule the deposition if a witness’s presence is particularly important to the case.

Inadequate Preparation

Parties in attendance at the deposition, including plaintiffs, defendants, or witnesses, might not have the documentation or other information needed to proceed with the deposition. To avoid this issue, ensure you prepare all necessary documents and testimony, which your attorney could provide guidance on ahead of time.

Lying During the Deposition

Some parties might be tempted to answer all questions during the deposition, even if they don’t have clear answers. While some might intentionally lie to steer cases in their favor, some might simply try to “guess” the right answer to certain questions, which can be equally detrimental to the case. If you are unclear regarding the answers to any questions that attorneys ask, you can answer, “I don’t know.” Doing so will be more beneficial than lying under oath.

Providing Too Much Information

When attorneys ask you questions to gain information, only provide the requested information. You don’t need to elaborate or provide additional details that could hurt your case or raise more questions from attorneys.

Withholding Information

Conversely, not providing sufficient information during a deposition could harm your case later if attorneys eventually uncover the information. Make sure you always give the necessary information in a deposition with as much accuracy as possible.

Aggressive Behavior

Individuals could also become impatient or aggressive during depositions, leading them to argue with attorneys. Even if you experience frustration during a deposition with an attorney’s questions or approach, being polite, calm, honest, and generally cooperative is in your best interest.

When It’s Best to Sue for a Car Accident

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois saw 298,347 car accidents in 2022 alone, 20% of which resulted in injuries. Many accidents result from a liable party’s negligence and warrant lawsuits to recover compensation for victims.

The prospect of the deposition and an overall lengthy discovery process could make individuals reluctant to file a car accident lawsuit, but it’s often best to proceed with these cases if you sustain injuries and other damages because of another party’s negligence.

Following a car accident, it’s important to begin a case as soon as possible, which could involve filing an insurance claim. You might be wondering, “Is it worth suing after a car accident?” Ultimately, if the claims process doesn’t result in a favorable outcome, it may be best to sue for a car accident. An attorney can advise you more on whether you have a valid case that warrants a lawsuit.

Filing Before the Statute of Limitations Expires

Like other types of civil cases, car accident lawsuits have a statute of limitations in place that indicates how long after a car accident you can claim an injury.

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for car accidents and other personal injury cases is two years from the time of the injury or discovery of injury. This means you have two years to file a claim or lawsuit. Failure to file within this time could severely limit or eliminate your ability to open a case.

While two years may seem like plenty of time to build a case, this time can quickly pass, making it important to seek medical attention and begin developing a case as soon as possible. An attorney can work with you to ensure you file a claim or suit on time, putting you on the path to financial recovery.

Preparing for a Deposition in a Car Accident Case

Taking the right steps to prepare for a deposition in a car accident case can mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful lawsuit. If you want to file a suit against a liable party for injuries and other damages resulting from an accident, you must effectively prepare all necessary documentation and testimony ahead of time, which will help make the deposition process go smoothly.

However, you will need to work with an experienced car accident attorney in Chicago to assist with the entire legal process, including depositions. The right lawyer will be able to determine what options are available to you and help you prepare for depositions and the rest of your case.

To find out whether you have a case, contact us at Ankin Law today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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