Insurance 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.