What Happens After a Deposition in a Car Accident Case in California?
A deposition is an important part of the discovery process in a car accident claim. It is the opportunity for the attorney representing the plaintiff (the injured party) to question the defendant (the person who caused the accident) under oath in front of a court reporter. The questions asked during a deposition will typically be about the facts leading up to and surrounding the accident.
The purpose of a deposition is to gather the information that will be used at trial. It is also an opportunity for the attorneys to get a sense of what the witnesses will be like when they testify in court. The answers given during a deposition can also be used to impeach a witness if their testimony at trial differs from what they said during their deposition.
Depositions are typically conducted at the attorney’s office, but they can also take place at the courthouse or even at the home or office of the deponent.
The Deposition Process
The deposition process typically begins with each attorney giving an opening statement. The plaintiff’s attorney will explain why the deposition is being held and what they hope to accomplish. The defendant’s attorney will usually reserve their opening statement for trial.
After the opening statements, the plaintiff’s attorney will begin asking questions of the defendant. The defendant will be sworn in before they begin answering questions, and they will be required to answer all questions truthfully to the best of their knowledge. The defendant’s attorney can object to certain questions, but ultimately it is up to the judge presiding over the case to decide whether or not to sustain or overrule those objections. If an objection is sustained, then that question cannot be asked again during that particular deposition. However, it may be able to be asked again at a different time or during trial.
Tests may also be conducted during a deposition to demonstrate what happened leading up to or during the accident. For example, if there is a dispute about whether or not a traffic light was working at the time of an accident, one way to resolve that issue would be for someone to go out to the scene and physically test whether or not the light was working.
What Happens After a Deposition in a Car Accident Case?
There are typically four main stages in a car crash lawsuit:
- Pre-trial discovery
As mentioned above, depositions are part of the pre-trial discovery process and are generally used to gather information and evidence to help guide the rest of the case. Below is a general timeline of what happens after deposition in a car accident case:
a) A Transcript is Prepared, Issued, and Filed
Once the deposition is complete, a court reporter will transcribe the proceedings. The transcript will contain a record of everything said during the deposition and can be used as legal evidence in the case. Both attorneys then review the transcript to ensure that it accurately reflects what happened. Once any necessary changes have been made, the transcript will be issued and filed with the court.
b) A Legal Evaluation is Performed
The next step after a deposition in a car accident depends on the case’s specific circumstances. In some cases, the parties may be able to negotiate a settlement before trial. If that is not possible and the case proceeds to trial, the attorneys will prepare a legal evaluation of their client’s claim. This evaluation will include an estimate of the damages being sought in the case and a list of evidence and witness testimony. The attorneys will also discuss any potential legal issues or arguments that may arise during the trial proceedings.
c) A Medical Examination May be Conducted
In some cases, it may be necessary to conduct a medical examination in order to assess the plaintiff’s injuries and long-term prognosis. This is often done so that the defendant can have a better understanding of what their potential liability may be in the case.
Insurance companies are notorious for trying to get accident injury victims to see specific physicians or doctors of their choice. It is important to remember that you are under no legal obligation to see any doctor chosen by the insurance company. You have the right to get as many medical opinions and treatments as you need without having to consult a single shred of paper from an insurance company first.
d) A Settlement Offer May Be Made
If a settlement offer is made, both parties will be required to sign off on it before it can be finalized. If no settlement agreement can be reached and the case proceeds to trial, the attorney will begin preparing the client’s case for trial. This involves reviewing all of the evidence that has been gathered during discovery and preparing witnesses for testimony in court.
e) A Trial is Held
The trial is the final step in the car accident lawsuit process. The judge will hear evidence and witness testimony from both sides, after which they will make a ruling. If you win your case at trial, you may be awarded compensation for your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.
You may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are additional funds awarded to punish the defendant and send a message that their behavior is unacceptable.
If you are not satisfied with the judgment issued by the court, you may have the option to file an appeal. An appeal is a legal process in which you can argue that the judge made an error during your trial. It allows for a higher court to reevaluate your case based on arguments made by both sides. If your appeal is successful and your judgment is overturned, you may be entitled to additional compensation.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident and are considering filing a lawsuit, it is important to work with an experienced car accident attorney who can help guide you through the legal process. With the right preparation and representation, you can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the proceedings and maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
We are a trusted law firm that has helped thousands of car accident victims receive the compensation they deserve. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.