A deposition is a way of taking witness testimony before trial. Even though there’s no judge present, a person is under oath and must tell the truth. Depositions often happen early while witness memories are still fresh. Typically, depositions give each side more information so they can evaluate the strength of their respective positions. What happens after deposition in a personal injury case? Lawyers like those at Marasco & Nesselbush in Providence try to reach an agreement with the other side that results in a fair outcome for their client.
Depositions are part of the discovery phase of the legal process. Before parties go to trial, both sides engage in discovery to learn about facts, evidence, and the other side’s perspective. This allows both parties to develop a legal strategy.
After a deposition in a personal injury case, both sides usually enter a negotiation process, which can lead to a settlement. The parties may also opt to enter mediation at this point. Mediation is not required in personal injury cases in Rhode Island, but it is one option to resolve disputes.
A deposition can be an intimidating process, especially if you are recovering from an accident injury. As your dedicated personal injury lawyers, Marasco & Nesselbush can be at your side during all stages of a lawsuit, including depositions and mediation. Contact us today for a free case review.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a type of legal testimony. It takes place under oath outside of a courtroom. Because it is under oath, it is subject to the same rules as being a witness in a court. You must tell the truth to the best of your ability under penalty of perjury.
A court reporter transcribes the deposition testimony. The person answering the questions, known as the deponent, is often an important witness in a legal case. The person filing the lawsuit and the defendant also typically testify at depositions.
If you receive a subpoena to be deposed, you must do so or face contempt of court charges. You should seek legal advice if you have concerns about answering a subpoena or being deposed.
A deposition happens before trial. Mediation—a negotiation process between the parties with the assistance of a neutral third party—often comes after depositions. Deposition transcripts are typically inadmissible hearsay that can’t be used as evidence at trial. However, exceptions to that rule permit the use of the transcript, such as when the witness makes an admission or trial testimony conflicts with the deposition.
One benefit of taking a deposition early after the accident or injury is getting the testimony of a witness while their memory is still fresh. Since a trial might occur many months later, a deposition might offer a more accurate and complete account of the witness’ recollections.
Who Is Present at a Deposition?
A deposition might happen in a lawyer’s office or another location. It might also take place online over Zoom or another platform.
Several people might attend the deposition, including:
- The witness, known as the deponent
- The person filing the lawsuit, known as the plaintiff
- The party defending the lawsuit, known as the defendant
- The lawyers for both sides
- A court reporter who administers the oath and transcribes the testimony
Sometimes, paralegals, investigators, and other individuals also attend.
What Happens During a Deposition?
Your lawyer should give you a brief overview of what to expect during a deposition. This can include the following:
- What kinds of questions your lawyer will ask
- What questions the other side might ask
- How to answer the questions to the best of your ability
- How long the process might take
The attorney can also answer any individual questions you might have, such as whether you can request a break during questioning. A deposition can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as several hours. In some instances, a deposition might occur over several days.
After a car crash or other accident, it can feel overwhelming to face the deposition process. The accident attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush can guide you every step of the way.
What Kinds of Questions Might a Lawyer Ask During a Deposition?
In a deposition, a lawyer can ask a broader range of questions than a court might allow at trial. You can expect questions regarding the following:
- Personal background
- Relationship to the parties in the case
- Knowledge and recollection of the circumstances of the accident
During a deposition, both sides have the opportunity to ask the witness questions.
What’s the Law on Depositions in Rhode Island?
Under Rhode Island law, specifically Rule 30 of the Rhode Island Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure, you have 30 days to review the transcript or recording of your deposition after it is ready. You can make changes during this period by signing a statement outlining the changes you want to make.
What Happens After Deposition in Personal Injury Cases?
So, after a deposition, what happens? The lawyers in your case use depositions and other evidence to negotiate an agreement. Lawyers typically try to reach an agreement before going to trial. You can avoid trial completely if negotiation leads to a fair and just outcome.
Mediation is voluntary in Rhode Island, but it might be a good option to negotiate a fair settlement in your case. Mediation is a preferred method for resolving family law cases in Rhode Island, but it can also play a key role in resolving personal injury cases. During mediation, both sides volunteer to meet with a neutral third party—a mediator—who can help them reach an agreement.
There’s no particular timeline for when mediation might begin. Among the factors is the availability of mediators.
Mediation has many benefits, including:
- Restarting communication after negotiations break down
- Narrowing down legal issues in a case
- Providing information to the other side to support a legal claim
The personal injury lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush are seasoned legal professionals who can help you through all aspects of mediation.
How Long After a Deposition Is There a Settlement?
So, do personal injury cases settle after depositions? The timing depends on the specific facts of your case. Your settlement might be delayed because of the following:
- New evidence arises from depositions
- Subpoenas for new evidence, such as documents, records, and additional testimony
- Discrepancies between witness testimony and evidence
When parties agree to mediation, settlement may happen more quickly than if they choose to go to trial. Going to trial, however, might be in your best legal interest, depending on the circumstances of your case.
How Can You Best Participate in the Deposition Process?
When you are about to be deposed, you should ask your lawyer any questions you might have, no matter how small or trivial your questions may seem. Your lawyer will also help prepare you by discussing the types of questions you may be asked and explaining what will happen during the deposition.
After you have given your deposition, it might be hard to play the waiting game, but your attorneys are working hard on your behalf. If you have questions or concerns after your deposition, you should only speak to your attorney about them. Your attorney will handle any communications with the other party for you.
How Skilled Lawyers Can Help
A lawsuit can be a stressful process with many unknowns. If you sustained an injury in an accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush. We have won over $100,000,000 in settlements for our clients and are dedicated to providing counsel and support throughout your legal case, including preparations for a successful deposition.
Contact us today for a free case review.