When you get injured in an automobile accident which necessitates your bringing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, it is likely that you will be placed in some positions where you may be asked to give a verbal statement either to a claims representative of that driver’s insurance company, to testimony to an opposing counsel in a deposition or at trial before a judge and/or jury. Each of these instances should be treated differently. Below we review each situation:
Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
Shortly after getting in to an automobile accident, the insurance company covering the other driver will often seek to get in touch with you for the purposes of taking a recorded statement. Usually there is no requirement that you agree to the request. It is advisable to have retained a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after sustaining injuries in such an accident. With counsel, you can discuss the request to give a recorded statement and have them address it. Frequently it is wise to refuse to give testimony at this juncture on the record as the representative hopes to garner a statement which can later be used against you.
Testimony during a Deposition
For many personal injury cases, depositions are pivotal proceedings of litigation. Of course, they only occur if no settlement of a claim during the pre-litigation stage or litigation is reached. After swapping initial pleadings and written discovery requests, usually attorneys on all sides of the case set a schedule for taking depositions. During depositions opposing counsel gets the chance before a stenographer, taking down all the testimony, to cross-examine you not only what happened in the accident but a wide range of topics ranging from personal work and school background to your medical history. Preparation for and performance at the deposition is critical as these events often determine which direction the litigation will likely proceed; either towards settlement or trial
Testimony at Trial
As very few cases – by percentage of total filed – actually make it to trial, the chances of having to testify at a trial are far less than having to do so at deposition. In this setting, you will have the opportunity first to tell your story via direct examination by your own attorney. This gives you the chance to offer your own narrative. The opposing counsel will again have the chance to cross-examine you but the scope of that examination will be significantly limited compared to the type of fishing expedition which the rules for deposition allow. But as the testimony at this stage will impact the ultimate verdict in the case, preparation for this stage is no less important than it is prior to the deposition.
The attorneys at Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. represent individuals in personal injury suits in New Mexico. Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Call the office at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment or visit the firm’s website at giddenslaw.com for more information