One of the things that many people worry about when they file a car accident claim is whether or not they must appear in court or give sworn testimony in a deposition. However, the majority of car accident claims settle without the necessity of filing a lawsuit. The parties can negotiate a fair settlement based on the facts in the case.
However, sometimes an insurance company denies liability or refuses to negotiate fairly. In those cases, your Indianapolis car accident attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit. While you can still settle a lawsuit before a trial, you might need to appear in court. Furthermore, you may need to provide a deposition for the defense counsel.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is similar to providing testimony in court. You are under oath; therefore, you must tell the truth and what you say can be used to impeach your testimony if your answers change. The attorney for the defense asks questions that you must answer. The questions are designed to obtain additional information about your case. A defense attorney may also use a deposition to gauge how a witness may appeal to jurors during a trial.
Your attorney will be in the room with you during the deposition, which is transcribed by a court reporter. However, your attorney cannot answer questions for you or provide advice about how to answer a question. Your attorney may object to certain questions if he believes the questions are being asked in violation of your rights or the law. Furthermore, your attorney will not allow the defense attorney to be abusive.
Deposition Tips from an Indianapolis Car Accident Attorney
Our Indianapolis car accident attorneys have prepared many clients for depositions. Each deposition is unique because the facts and parties in the case are unique. However, some of the common deposition tips our attorneys discuss with clients include:
- Listen carefully and ask for clarification. Listen to the questions very carefully and think about the question before you answer. Your answer isn’t timed. Therefore, take a moment to consider your answer before you speak. If you do not understand the question, ask the attorney to rephrase or clarify the question. Never answer a question unless you understand what is asked.
- Do not guess or estimate. If you do not know the answer to a question or you do not remember, the response “I don’t know” is perfectly acceptable. The attorney may continue to question you in an attempt to get you to give some type of However, if you do not know, continue to state you do not know as your response.
- Only answer what is asked. If you can answer a question with a yes or no, then do so. Do not offer additional information. It may be tempting to try to explain your position; however, your attorney will handle this for you during a trial. You do not need to offer any information that is not asked for during a deposition.
- Be incredibly careful when answering compound questions. Attorneys use these types of questions to confuse witnesses and obtain additional information. If the attorney asks a compound question, do not be shy about asking the attorney to break the question into specific parts to be answered one part at a time.
- You can request to review a document. If the attorney asks a question related to a specific document, you can ask to review the document before you answer the question to refresh your memory.
- Avoid using words like “always” and “never.” Very seldom in life is anything absolute. Therefore, stay away from using absolutes like “always” and “never” in your responses.
- Remain calm. The defense attorney may attempt to make you nervous or angry. Do not give in to the temptation to become defensive or angry. View the questions for what they are — simply questions. Do not take the questions as a personal attack and it is easier to remain calm and avoid anger.
- Always tell the truth. Do not give in to a temptation to exaggerate. Answer each question honestly.
- You can take breaks. If you need a break to go to the restroom or get a drink, you can ask for a break.