Depositions in Personal Injury Cases – What Can I Expect?

3Insurance companies can be difficult to work with when it comes to personal injury claims.  In some instances, an insurance company may deny their insured was responsible for an incident and refuse to make any settlement offer to compensate an injured person for their medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost wages.  In other cases, an insurance company may admit their insured is responsible but will make a settlement offer that does not fairly compensate the injured party or claim that an injury was not caused by the incident.  At this juncture, it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit to obtain a fair resolution.

A lawsuit starts with the filing of a complaint that identifies the responsible parties, describes the facts and circumstances of the incident and makes a claim for damages.  Thereafter, the discovery process allows the parties to gather information about the incident, as well as the injuries.  One of the most important discovery tools is depositions of parties and witnesses. A deposition is simply a question and answer session where a lawyer is allowed ask a witness questions to learn information about a claim. The witness must affirm that his or her answers will be truthful, and a court reporter will transcribe the testimony.  Depositions are often recorded on video so that the appearance and the demeanor of the witness is documented.

Rule 30 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the procedure for taking depositions in Alabama State Courts. Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure governs the use of depositions in court proceedings.  Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the testimony of a witness.  A deposition of a witness may be used in court instead of presenting live witness testimony when the witness is dead, is over 100 miles from the place of trial or is out of the state, or is unable to attend due to age, illness, infirmity or imprisonment.  Deposition testimony of licensed physicians or dentists can be used in court as an alternative to calling these witnesses to trial.

In a personal injury case, it is typical for the attorneys to take the depositions of the parties and any witnesses to the event.  If a corporation is named as a defendant, then it must designate a person or persons to testify on behalf of the corporation and provide information concerning all matters known or available to the corporation. A corporate representative speaks on behalf of the corporation, and anything he or she says binds the corporation.

An injured person sitting for a deposition can expect to be questioned about the facts and circumstances of the event resulting in injury, the medical treatment he or she received after the incident, and any medical treatment or injuries prior to the event. The witness will need to provide information about the medical expenses, any lost wages, and explain how the injury has impacted their life.

Attorneys representing an injured person will often take depositions of healthcare providers who provided medical care.  When deposing a physician, it is common to ask about the medical treatment provided, whether the injury is related to the incident, and how the injury will impact the injured person in the future.  Since depositions of licensed physicians can be used at trial instead of presenting live testimony, video depositions are often utilized as they are an effective way to provide information about physical injuries and other damages to a jury.

If a lawsuit must be filed in your personal injury case, whether it involves a car wreck, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, or an injury on the job, it is likely that you will be required to provide deposition testimony.  While the process can be stressful, experienced personal injury attorneys can guide you through the process.  Your attorney will be present during the deposition and can prevent opposing counsel from asking improper or misleading questions.

If an insurance company refuses to compensate you for your injuries or is not offering enough money to resolve your claim, you need an attorney that has experience with the litigation process. The lawyers at Siniard, Timberlake & League, P.C. have decades of experience conducting discovery and taking depositions to present cases at trial.  Our attorneys can help you make an insurance company pay fair compensation.

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