Most lawsuits are settled out of court through mediation or other negotiations. However, your attorney will still need to collect relevant evidence and prepare for trial. This process may involve conducting depositions of the defendant and relevant witnesses, and the defendant’s attorney may depose you.
Deposition is standard in personal injury cases. It’s an examination process that sets the scene for further negotiations or for trial. Keep reading to learn more about what happens after and during deposition in a personal injury case.
What is a deposition in a personal injury case?
A deposition is an oral examination of any party or witness involved in a lawsuit. As the party seeking damages, you’ll likely be deposed by the defense attorney.
Your personal injury lawyer may also depose witnesses such as another driver in a car wreck or the safety foreman of a construction site.
Witnesses may be subpoenaed to appear for their deposition where they’ll be compelled to answer questions under oath. The entire deposition is transcribed by a court reporter.
A transcript of the deposition will be provided to the witness and may be purchased by both attorneys. These transcripts may be used as evidence at trial or to challenge any inconsistent testimony, evidence, or statements.
Steps following deposition
Your lawyer prepares you for the deposition to get you more comfortable with the proceedings. Listen to the questions, answer truthfully but succinctly, and stop talking if your lawyer objects to a question. Your attorney will also guide you through the process following your deposition.
1. Review of deposition transcripts
The deposition transcripts are exactly what the witness and attorney said during the deposition; each witness deposition has its own transcript. The deposed witness must be permitted the opportunity to review and edit the transcript unless they waive that right.
Your lawyer will then review each transcript to look for evidence that supports your position, positions of weakness in the other party’s case, and positions or statements that the defense could exploit.
2. Settlement negotiations
Settlement negotiations are discussed in mediation, supervised by a neutral third party. The mediator hears evidence from both sides and helps both parties compromise. Unlike arbitration, mediation decisions aren’t binding.
The contents of the depositions often influence the negotiations. The defense may realize that their client was egregiously negligent and, therefore, may settle quickly to avoid a loss at trial.
The discovery period in a civil case permits both parties to demand evidence and gather information about the case, which includes depositions. It’s common that a deposition may trigger the need for additional discovery such as written questions, demands for production of documents, additional depositions, or subpoenas.
4. Pretrial conference
If the parties can’t agree in mediation, the next step is a pretrial conference where the parties can tell the court if they’re ready to proceed with trial, their time estimate for trial, and a briefing schedule can be provided. The case may still be settled at any point before the trial begins, including following the pretrial conference.
If the defense doesn’t present an acceptable compromise to you and your lawyer, you may end up taking your case to trial.
At trial, all evidence and discovery will be presented to support your position and refute the defense’s claims. Your Florida personal injury lawyer may use the deposition transcripts and discovery responses to impeach the defense or a witness — this could be critical to your lawyer’s arguments and the success of your case.
A ruling will be issued at the conclusion of the trial, which is legally binding for both parties.
Either party may appeal the ruling if they feel there were procedural or legal errors that should render the decision incorrect and reversible. The appellate court considers the briefs submitted by both parties along with the trial court’s record, then they can reverse the ruling, remand or return the matter back to the trial court for further explanation or review, or they can deny the appeal altogether.
Do you need a Florida personal injury lawyer?
At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, our personal injury lawyers have decades of experience representing victims in various types of personal injury claims where we help our clients get the compensation they deserve. To schedule your complimentary case review, call (561) 655-1990 to put our experience to work for you.