For those individuals (plaintiffs) involved in an automobile accident who proceed to sue the at-fault driver who caused the accident, it is very likely that the attorneys for that at-fault driver – provided by the insurance company which covers that driver – will want to take a deposition of the plaintiff. Depositions are basically oral examinations of witnesses before a court reporter who transcribes all of the questions and answers. The defense counsel will want to either find something out about the plaintiff which can discredit that witness personally or learn something about the circumstances of how the accident occurred which undermines the plaintiff’s case against the defendant. Also, the examining attorney for the defendant may try to show that the medical treatment obtained by the plaintiff after the accident was either unnecessary or unrelated to the injuries caused by the automobile accident.
Defendant’s counsel will often try to focus on 3 broad areas in the case:
The Plaintiff’s life history including personal details, education and work history – while the examining attorney will have probably obtained some information about the plaintiff through the written discovery process which usually starts before the depositions occur, the deposition gives the defense counsel the chance to hone in more closely about details of the plaintiff’s personal life and/or career. Often a fishing expedition, the plaintiff needs to tell his or her counsel everything which may be potentially problematic so plaintiff’s counsel can prepare the plaintiff for likely questions.
Details concerning the accident – as this line of inquiry goes to the core of most of these personal injury cases, it will be absolutely critical the plaintiff be prepared carefully for this part of the deposition. An inadvertent slip of the tongue or slight mischaracterization of what occurred can be devastating to a plaintiff’s case; if the case goes to trial, the attorneys will be in a position to use the transcript to impeach witnesses. If the plaintiff makes a declaration at the deposition which could be construed as undermining whether the defendant bears liability for the accident, the gaffe could convince a judge or jury to rule in favor of the defense.
Questions about the Plaintiff’s Medical Treatment after the accident – in many cases the defendant’s attorneys may not be able to prevent a jury from concluding their client is responsible for the accident, but they can reduce the amount of any verdict against the defendant which the insurance company would be required to pay to the extent of the limits of its coverage. Accordingly, it is expected they will attempt to show that some treatment may relate to some past injury or unrelated condition. It should be noted that these issues will be critically explored in depositions with the doctors that treat the plaintiff and any other doctors who may review the necessity and propriety of that treatment.
The Plaintiff will need a personal injury litigator who knows how to successfully prepare their client for depositions. This preparation could be vital to winning the case.
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