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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Burnham

What Happens After a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case?

Updated: May 21

Atty. Taylor Burnham at table consulting with two clients, reviewing documents and discussing legal options.

Winning compensation after an accident can feel like an uphill battle. You've likely endured medical procedures, battled with your insurance company, and suffered through the anxiety of not knowing how the case will turn out. 

Trying to understand the legal system can add another layer of stress. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced and trusted personal injury attorney in your corner to help guide you through your entire case, including a crucial stage - the deposition. 

A deposition is a formal question-and-answer session and is part of the pre-trial "discovery" process in a civil lawsuit. It is designed to gather information about your case from all sides and explore potential evidence.

While depositions can be nerve-wracking, they're also a necessary part of building a strong case. But what happens after the deposition is over?

This article will shed light on what happens after a deposition in a personal injury case and empower you to make informed decisions as you move forward with your personal injury claim. 

What Is A Deposition?

Atty. Taylor Burnham in a meeting with two clients, reviewing documents and discussing key points following a deposition

A deposition is a formal sworn testimony conducted outside of court, where a court reporter prepares and records everything that's said for future reference. This usually occurs during the discovery phase of a civil lawsuit, typically after a lawsuit is filed but before trial or settlement. 

It allows both sides to gather information from each other about the case. This can include obtaining relevant facts to the case, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the two opposing parties' arguments, and gauging how a witness or party will appear in court (credibility, likability). 

For instance, a personal injury lawyer might use a deposition to determine how effectively an injured person will communicate the details of their accident to a jury.

To schedule a deposition, one side provides notice to all parties involved according to the applicable civil procedure rules. The location can vary but often occurs at a law office or a mutually convenient location selected by the parties. 

At times where a witness lives in a remote area without transportation, it’s not unheard of for a deposition to occur at a witness’s home or church. A court reporter is always present to record the entire proceeding. 

Similar to a trial setting, one attorney will lead the questioning with others following up with their own.

Objections to witness questions can be raised, but unlike a trial, there's no judge to immediately rule on them. The objection is noted, and the questioning continues.

Who Can Be Deposed?

In most cases, anyone with knowledge of the lawsuit's facts can be compelled to attend a deposition and answer questions through a subpoena: a legal order that requires someone’s appearance. 

This can include the injured party (the plaintiff) themselves, the defendant, eyewitnesses, experts, and representatives of companies.

Generally speaking, anyone who is alleged to have information about an accident case can be deposed for witness testimony.

When Do Depositions Occur In A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

A woman preparing for a deposition with her lawyer.

Depositions typically occur immediately after the written discovery phase is completed. These early phases involve exchanging information through written questions and requests for documents. Depositions can occur within a number of weeks after a lawsuit has been filed, or even a number of years, especially if the factual and legal issues are complex.


How Long Do Depositions Last?

Depositions for personal injury cases typically last a few hours, but this can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the importance of the witness. In our experience, for a plaintiff-driver and a defendant-driver involved in a car accident case, their depositions will typically last from 1 to 3 hours.

With witnesses that provide scientific expert opinions, and must review page after page of documents and reports, their deposition can last an entire day. 

For a disinterested witness who saw an accident, the deposition would likely be much shorter and closer to 1 hour in length. The number of attorneys involved can also influence the duration of a deposition. 

The more attorneys there are, the more questions there will be, and the longer the deposition will last. Be prepared for flexibility, and discuss any concerns with your attorney beforehand.

What Happens After Deposition In Personal Injury Case?

While the deposition itself is over, the work isn't quite done. Here's what unfolds in the aftermath:

Reviewing the Transcript

A court reporter meticulously transcribes the entire deposition, creating a written record of every question asked and every answer provided. This deposition transcript becomes a crucial document in your case. 

You'll typically receive a copy of an official transcript that you should carefully review to ensure the record accurately reflects your testimony. 

Typos and minor errors might happen, and neglecting to review the transcript can have consequences. Inaccurate information on the record could be misconstrued by opposing counsel, potentially weakening your case. A thorough review allows you to ensure your testimony is presented clearly and faithfully.

Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 1445 outlines the procedure for reviewing your testimony:Any changes in form or substance which the witness desires to make shall be entered upon the deposition by the officer with a statement of the reasons given by the witness for making them. The deposition shall then be signed by the witness unless the parties by stipulation waive the signing or the witness is ill or is absent from the parish where the deposition was taken or cannot be found or refuses to sign."  

If you need to make changes to the form or substance of your testimony, you must let the court reporter know and give the reasons why. Then you must sign the transcript. Alternatively, you can agree to “waive” this right, which is a common occurrence. 

Deposition Impact

Depositions can unearth valuable information that wasn't previously known. This could include inconsistencies in the story of the opposing party, new witnesses, or previously undisclosed other evidence. With this new knowledge, your attorney can use it to strengthen your negotiating position.

However, it's also important to acknowledge that the deposition could potentially expose weaknesses in your case. This underscores the importance of

being honest and forthcoming throughout your testimony.

Settlement or Trial: The Final Outcome After the Deposition

Lawyers shaking hands after resolving a dispute during a deposition

Your attorney will review the deposition transcripts with you to analyze the overall impact of the depositions on your case. This will help determine the best course of action moving forward.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Depositions can sometimes lead to renewed discussions about settling the case outside of court. With all the cards on the table, both sides might be more open to reaching an agreement.

  • The depositions help both sides gain a clearer picture of the case's strengths and weaknesses. Your lawyer can assess how persuasive your deposition testimony was and how the opposing party's questioning went. This newfound clarity can encourage settlement discussions, as both parties can make more informed decisions about the potential costs and risks of going to trial.

Your lawyer may submit a settlement demand on your behalf, and in return, should receive a settlement offer from the other party's insurance company. This offer might be based on the information revealed during the deposition. 

Your lawyer will carefully evaluate this offer and advise you on whether it's fair compensation for your injuries. Productive negotiations then ensue, with your lawyer leveraging the deposition findings to advocate for a settlement that reflects the true value of your case.

Settling is often in your best interest, as you will be able to avoid a long-drawn out litigation process as well as the stress and anxiety that comes with attending a trial, but only if the insurance company is offering fair value and fair compensation for your injuries. 

If the insurance company is not doing the right thing and is not offering fair compensation, a trial is the only option for getting you the justice you deserve. 

  • Discovery Continues: If there is no settlement after the depositions, the discovery phase simply continues with the parties exchanging information. This might involve deposing other witnesses or obtaining additional documents.

  • Motions for Summary Judgment: A motion for summary judgment is a court filing that a party can use to receive a ruling on a critical issue or fact in the case. These will typically not be filed until after a deposition. For example, if a defense attorney learns in a deposition that their client was not responsible for causing an accident, the attorney may file a motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability to try to get their client dismissed from the case. 

  • Mediation: If the case doesn’t settle, the parties can agree on mediation. “Mediation” is a process where the parties schedule a time and a place and meet with an independent third party known as a “mediator.” The mediator acts as the go-between between the plaintiff and defendant and advises each of them regarding the strengths and weaknesses in their cases, and her goal is to resolve the case. The mediator is paid by one or both of the parties for her services. 

  • Trial Preparation: If agreement remains elusive and the discovery phase concludes, your lawyer will then shift focus and will continue preparing for trial, presenting the strongest possible case on your behalf.

Next Steps: Witness Depositions and Trial Preparation

Having successfully navigated the deposition, the case continues to move forward. Here's a look at what might come next:

Preparation For Trial

If settlement remains elusive after mediation or other attempts, the case will move toward trial.

This involves extensive preparation by your lawyer, including gathering evidence, finalizing witness lists, and strategizing courtroom arguments.

Your lawyer will also need to prep you as a witness for trial. You will likely be a star witness in your case-and-chief and will have important testimony to offer. Expect that your attorney will need to spend a half-day, or entire day prepping you. Again, this timeline all depends on the complexity of your case and the issues involved.

Timeline for Resolution

It's difficult to predict an exact timeline for resolving your case after a deposition. 

Several factors can influence the pace, including the complexity of the accident case, the willingness of both parties to settle, and court backlogs.

While many personal injury cases settle quickly after depositions, others may take months or years to reach a resolution. 

Throughout this process, maintain open communication with your lawyer. Don't hesitate to ask questions or voice any concerns you may have. They are there to guide you and advocate for your best interests.

Confused After Your Deposition? An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Atty. Taylor Burnham pointing to a section of a deposition transcript while discussing legal strategy with two clients in a meeting

Accidents are stressful, and the legal process can be overwhelming. 

Burnham Law Firm is here for you. Depositions are a key part of your case, but they're just one step. We'll help you review the transcript, understand its impact, and determine the best path forward. Don't go at it alone.

Contact us for a free consultation or free case review and get the recovery you deserve.


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