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Depositions in Florida Personal Injury Cases

Now that the complaint has been filed and answered by the defendant, your case is in full swing. Next comes an important and the most time-consuming phase of the lawsuit—discovery. Discovery is the process by which each side learns information about the other side’s case. There are two major categories of discovery—written discovery and depositions. Written discovery consists primarily of interrogatories, requests for production of documents and requests for admissions. A deposition involves an attorney meeting in person with a witness who testifies under oath in response to the lawyer’s questions and the testimony is recorded by a court reporter. In this blog post, we will discuss these discovery tools in more depth.

Discovery in Personal Injury Cases

When you are a plaintiff in a lawsuit, you can expect at least three occasions where you will have to show up somewhere in person for some event related to the litigation. In typical order, those events are your deposition, mediation and if there is no settlement, trial. The first event, your deposition, is the opportunity for the other side to lock in what you are going to say at trial. The defendant’s attorney will likely take your deposition and your attorney will also probably take the deposition of the defendant at some point. In addition, the lawyers may want to depose other  witnesses to the accident—as well as police officers, doctors and anyone else who is likely to testify at the trial. At your deposition, you will typically sit beside your attorney, across from the defendant’s attorney, with a court reporter beside and between you. The defendant may, but probably will not, be present. At the beginning of the deposition, you will be administered an oath to tell the truth by the court reporter. You are, therefore, “under oath” during your deposition. After you are sworn in, the other lawyers ask you questions, and you respond. The attorneys for each party will each get a chance to ask you questions. Although your attorney may ask you questions, these will usually be limited only to helping you clarify any incomplete or confusing answers that you may have given during your testimony. Your lawyer will probably prepare you for the types of questions that you will be asked at your deposition. However, just to give you an idea in advance, there are many categories of questions that the defendant’s lawyer will ask you. Some lawyers go into more detail than others; so, a deposition can last anywhere from a couple of hours to eight hours or even longer, depending on the complexity of the case and your injuries. Every word that is said by anybody while the deposition is being conducted is recorded by the court reporter. Different court reporters use different methods to record the information. Some court reporters use stenographic machines that they type on, some have little mask type devices that they speak into, repeating every word that anyone says. As for the costs of depositions, the attorney requesting the deposition normally pays for the court reporter as well as the original transcript copy. Other attorneys usually pay only for copies of the transcript that they request. There are some special kinds of depositions in addition to the typical ones. If the other party requests a deposition duces tecum that means that you are required to bring documents with you to your deposition for the other lawyers to view and/or copy. In addition, sometimes depositions are videotaped, particularly if the lawyer knows in advance that the witness being deposed will not be able to be at trial in person. Also, sometimes depositions of doctors are videotaped so that the party can save money by not having to have the doctor attend the trial in person, which usually costs a lot more.

Here are some of the most common questionsthat you can expect to be asked about in a typical deposition for an accident case:

• What were you doing prior to the accident?
• What had you eaten that day?
• What medications had you taken that day?
• Did you have any alcohol or illegal drugs within 24 hours prior to the accident?
• Where were you going just prior to the accident?
• How did the accident happen?
• What did you do immediately after the accident?
• What pain or injuries did you feel immediately after the accident?
• What were the exact movements of your body during the accident?
• Did you hit any part of your body in the accident?
• Were your vehicle’s airbags deployed during the accident?
• Did your car have any mechanical problems prior to the accident?
• When did your car most recently have maintenance or repairs prior to the accident?
• Were you were offered an ambulance after the accident? Did you accept?
• Can you describe any discussions you had with the defendant or any witnesses after immediately the accident?
• What questions did the police officers ask you and how did you answer?

Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today!

All drivers in Florida have a duty of care to act in a reasonable manner to avoid harming other drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. The extent of that duty is defined by the rules of the road and by common sense. To achieve a favorable result in a personal injury claim arising out of a car accident typically means you must prove four main elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Injuries resulting from negligence are direct when they were intended by the wrongdoer or when a person of ordinary prudence and judgment would have foreseen them as natural and probable results of his wrong if he had used the care and foresight which the law requires of him under the circumstances of the case. When several act together or co-operate in the negligent conduct resulting in injury to another each and all of them are liable to that person for the resulting injury. Where several are guilty of separate acts of negligence which concur or combine in injuring another, the law in Florida that is applied is called pure comparative negligence. Damages are the physical and emotional injuries, property damage, and lost income someone suffers as the result of a car accident. Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation and stand ready to protect your rights. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation!

We serve clients throughout Florida including those in the following areas:

Miami-Dade: Aventura, Coral Gables, Doral, Fontainebleau, Hialeah, Homestead, Kendall, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Lakes, North Miami, Tamiami, and Westchester.

Broward: Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Weston; and Palm Beach County including Boca Raton, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach.