Depositions are a common practice in the adjudication of any personal injury car accident claims, and it is very easy to damage your case based on statements in a recorded setting. A deposition is a testimony taken by a skilled New York court reporter, conducted by a legal representative in a civil tort lawsuit, that is aimed at revealing information that may not be available on an official accident report. In many ways, it is a hunting expedition where practically anything is in season. Here are few tips when facing a deposition.
1. Be Prepared for Detailed Questioning
Motorcycle riders are often considered second-class travelers on the roadways. When the legal issue is a personal injury resulting from a motorcycle accident, there are some unwritten assumptions about bikers that they are dangerous motorists and often act illegally. Be prepared for detailed and intrusive questions from a defending attorney if you are biker who has been injured in an accident, even in light of seemingly obvious negligence by the responding party. Maintaining composure can be difficult, but it should be your basic frame of mind. Remember, you may be getting some trick questions.
2. Do Not Answer What is Not Asked
Always answer questions directly and succinctly. Do not offer additional information. Remember that the questioning accident attorney is looking for additional information beyond the scope of the official accident report, and there may be questions pertaining to any statement given to police officers. The purpose of this line of questioning is to cast doubt on your claim of injury severeness or contribution to the accident. Comparative negligence is a component of all accident cases and the defending attorney will likely be focused on increasing your comparative negligence percentage. Actually, depending on the state of occurrence, any contribution to the cause of the accident might eliminate a claim in some states while others maintain the modified comparative negligence model of 50% contribution to the accident to invalidate a claim.
3. Avoid Admitting Fault in the Accident
Any amount of fault assigned to an injured plaintiff will probably impact the amount of financial damage recovery for which they are eligible. Even in obvious cases of respondent negligence, the answers given in a deposition may be used as bargaining leverage against your claim when a settlement is being negotiated. The higher your comparative negligence percentage, the lower your settlement eligibility. Except for the few states that use pure contributory negligence, all accident victims are assessed for fault in the accident and the awards are discounted based on the fault percentage of the injured plaintiffs. In no state can an accident victim be paid damages for accidents they cause completely, and in states that use pure comparative negligence, any amount over 50% can eliminate validity of a claim. Luckily, in most states, even those who are largely at fault for an accident will likely receive some level of compensation when appropriate insurance levels are maintained by the negligent parties. But fault is crucial in every element of a personal injury claim, regardless of the state of jurisdiction.
Remember that a deposition could very well be a precursor to an actual trial when a defending legal counsel thinks they can have the claim dismissed by a jury. Subsequently, an injured plaintiff may also take the case to trial when there is significant insurance coverage available and the respondent is potentially guilty of gross negligence that could result in punitive damages. Your case may rest on your deposition, so being prepared is essential. As a matter of fact, if you are claiming damages based on an uninsured or underinsured clause on your personal policy, the adversarial insurance company might be your own insurance provider.
It is clear that the need for an experienced and aggressive personal injury attorney is extremely helpful in any injury claim stemming from a motorcycle accident, especially when stereotypes may be invoked by the defendant. As a rule of thumb, one should be well prepared when being deposed.
Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Veritext Legal Solutions for their added insight into important deposition tips.