Discover What You Need to Know About the Discovery Phase of a Car Accident Case
After your car accident complaint has been filed with the court and before your case is resolved, there is an important phase of litigation that could make or break your case. That phase is known as “discovery.” During discovery, the plaintiff and defendants are given (relatively) free reign to get as much information as possible that would be deemed relevant to the case.
You and your car accident lawyer may have already decided that you have a legal claim for which the court can grant you relief. However, it is during discovery that you will obtain the evidence necessary to prove your case to the court.
What Happens During Discovery
The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure explain the different ways your attorney can gather evidence during discovery. Some of the more common forms of discovery include:
- Requests for production of documents. Your attorney may request copies of documents that are relevant to your car accident or to the value of your damages.
- Interrogatories. Your attorney may request that another person answer written questions under oath.
- Depositions. Your attorney may question witnesses to see what they know or don’t know before the case. This questioning happens under oath and the penalties for lying under a deposition are just as severe as they are if you lie in a courtroom.
Of course, the defendant(s) may engage in the same type of discovery and request documents, interrogatories, or depositions from you.
Be Prepared for Your Own Deposition
Depositions aren’t as dramatic as courtroom testimony. Often, depositions take place in mundane places like hotel conference rooms or meeting rooms in office buildings. But make no mistake, the testimony taken during a deposition is just as important as testimony that takes place in a courtroom.
Before you are deposed, you should:
Be in Contact With Your Lawyer
In many cases, the notification of the deposition should be delivered to your attorney’s office. Your lawyer should then notify you of it. If the notification of the deposition has been delivered to you directly, call your lawyer immediately.
After the notification, it is incredibly important to get ready for the deposition. You should spend a considerable amount of time going over both the facts of the case and the testimony that you plan to give. If you have been as forthcoming as possible, your attorney should know what line of questioning to expect, and he or she should prepare you for that.
Organize Your Testimony
By the time a deposition happens, the event in which it is in reference to probably happened quite a few months ago. So you should spend as much time as possible going over what you saw. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean that you should have answers that you have memorized like a script. For one thing, giving answers that seem rehearsed can come back to hurt you later, as the attorneys for the other side will be viewing this deposition over and over again. It is very easy to get thrown off if you are in the middle of the script and you receive a question that you aren’t expecting. Instead of having a script, just answer the questions to the best of your ability.
Courtroom attire is suggested. This means no jeans, sweatpants, or casual clothing.
Know How to Behave During a Deposition
Wait until an entire question has been asked before you answer it. Avoid non-verbal answers that may get lost in the transcript and instead make sure to use your voice. Do not provide any more information than is necessary to answer the question that you have been asked.
Show up well rested. Depositions can be difficult and you want to be focused.
It is important to understand that a deposition is as important to the outcome of your case as your day in court. It is in your best interests to be as prepared as you possibly can.
Our clients can expect to be fully briefed and prepared for any deposition, and well represented during the deposition. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact attorney Steve Lee for a free case assessment today and learn about all of the things that you can do to protect your recovery.