If you are the victim in a personal injury case (e.g. car accident, slip-and-fall, etc.), you normally have the right to file a personal injury claim against the person or organization you believe is responsible for your injuries. In many cases, insurance companies make settlement offers that are substantially lower than what the injured party expects to receive. If this occurs, you may be compelled to sue the other party.
Before your lawsuit goes to trial, however, you and your opponent have the opportunity to gather information about each other. This phase of the lawsuit is called “discovery” and may include exchanges of documents, written questions, and depositions.
What Is A Deposition?
A deposition is a hearing that is recorded in order to determine how much an individual knows about a case and its facts. This interview is typically held outside of court in an attorney’s office.
One of the primary purposes of a deposition is to prevent fact-related surprises from occurring when the case reaches a trial and witnesses take the stand. A deposition may last as little as a few hours or up to several days, depending on the type of case and the witnesses involved.
Steps That Follow A Deposition
After a deposition and other aspects of the discovery phase have occurred, your lawsuit will typically include three important stages: mediation, trial, and appeal. Before your case reaches a trial, however, four essential steps generally take place.
Court Reporter Prepares A Transcript
By law, any proceeding or session held in court must be recorded by a court reporter word-for-word. The reporter may use one of several different types of devices to record the session, including a microphone and a stenotype.
Once the deposition is finished, the reporter must prepare a clear transcript, which will be essential in determining the outcome of the case.
Both Sides Review The Transcript
Both parties, including their attorneys, receive a copy of the final transcript created by the court reporter. If you or your attorney notice any inconsistencies or other types of factual errors in this document, you should notify the court immediately. Certain mistakes may lead your lawyer to believe that another witness must take the stand. If this occurs, a second deposition may be necessary.
Your Attorney Makes An Assessment
After your attorney has reviewed your deposition, they will share with you how this hearing may impact your case (positively, negatively, or both). Be sure to ask your lawyer to be completely honest and to clearly explain any complex legal terms that may be unfamiliar.
Opposing Party May Request Medical Examinations
Following the deposition, your opponent may request an “independent medical examination.” Your attorney can help you prepare for this if necessary. In many cases, your insurer will decide which doctor you should visit for this examination. Whoever this medical professional is, it is critical to ensure they do not downplay your injuries or attempt to blame you for the harm you sustained.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be familiar with this strategy and should:
- Advise you against providing the doctor with excess information.
- Tell you to have your doctor prepare a detailed report on your injuries.
- Gather all documents that may be helpful with the process of negotiating a settlement.
After all of this occurs, either a trial will take place or a settlement will be agreed upon. Your case should only result in a trial if you and your attorney believe the insurance company did not make you a fair settlement offer. According to alllaw.com, a trial may take up to 60 hours or more and legal fees may add up significantly.
Speak To The Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys
Reach out to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Parnall & Adams Law in Albuquerque, New Mexico for more information on depositions and how they impact specific cases. As a career civil litigator and a prior federal prosecutor, we understand that every personal injury case is unique and therefore merits close attention. We are highly familiar with New Mexico’s laws and know how they apply to your case.
The team at Parnall & Adams has years of experience dealing with several different types of personal injury cases, including car accidents, workplace accidents, dog bites, gas and oil accidents, and medical malpractice. We will guide you through the complex legal system and explain any legal, medical, or insurance-related jargon if necessary. We can also help you recover damages such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.