Although not the answer clients usually want to hear, how long a settlement might take after a deposition truly depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
The defendant may offer a settlement immediately after the conclusion of your deposition if they feel you made a strong, credible witness.
Or they may not, especially if they did not think you did well. Your attorney can assess the situation after your testimony and let you know if they think a settlement is imminent or if the case will likely proceed to trial.
What Is a Deposition for a Car Accident Case?
First, before diving into the specifics of depositions in a car accident case, it is imperative to understand what a deposition is and how it fits into the lawsuit process. Generally, there are four main phases in a car accident lawsuit after the case is filed:
- Discovery phase,
- Trial, and
- Appeal, if necessary.
A deposition is the process of giving sworn testimony. It is a hearing typically conducted outside of court during the discovery phase.
During the deposition, which usually occurs in an attorney’s office, a party or witness to the case gives their testimony under oath. A deposition allows the parties to share their version of events.
Each side will have an opportunity to question the witness. If you are the plaintiff, your attorney will examine you first and then defense counsel. Likewise, if the person testifying is a plaintiff witness, the plaintiff’s lawyer will question them first.
Depositions allow each party to hear all accounts and then make an educated determination about the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
Do You Need a Lawyer Present During Your Deposition?
There is no legal requirement that you have a lawyer present during your deposition. However, we strongly recommend it. In fact, it is a good idea to consult an attorney long before the case reaches the deposition phase.
Attempting to represent yourself through a deposition can be futile for two reasons. First, you may not know how to question the witness or what questions are the most relevant.
When it comes to answering questions, you may not know how to object or not respond to specific questions. Your lawyer will advise you whether to reply to avoid saying something that may be used against you later.
Will I Have to Appear In-Person for My Deposition?
Not many good things came out of the Covid-19 pandemic—but one good thing is the now common use of Zoom and other remote technology for legal proceedings. You may have your deposition conducted remotely from the comfort of your home. Typically, this requires each party’s consent.
How Long Does a Car Accident Deposition Take?
You may wonder, How long are depositions? Typically, a deposition can take a few hours to several days. The exact length of the deposition will depend on the particular circumstances—specifically, who is being deposed and the nature of their testimony.
For example, the plaintiff will likely be deposed for several hours or even several days. This is because they are an integral part and arguably have much of the knowledge necessary to prove the case.
You might also ask how long the entire deposition phase will take, including all witnesses. Again, this will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. The following factors will determine how long the deposition phase might last:
- The number of witnesses;
- The complexity of the case;
- The type of witnesses testifying (i.e., lay witnesses or expert witnesses);
- How long each witness’s testimony takes;
- The scope of questions; and
- The number of potential new witnesses whose identity is revealed throughout the process.
Some depositions may only last a few hours, while others can take multiple sessions over several days. Scheduling and calendar loads can also significantly affect how long the deposition phase takes.
Depositions require the attendance of many vital parties, including the witness, the attorneys, and a stenographer, all of whom have their own busy schedules.
What Happens After the Deposition in a Car Crash Lawsuit?
Depositions are just one part of the discovery process in a car accident lawsuit. There will also be written discovery and other evidence collection. However, once you get through the deposition phase, you are inching closer to a settlement or a trial.
Several things will occur after your deposition, including the following three steps.
Preparation of the Transcript
After your deposition, the court reporter present during your testimony will prepare a transcript, which is a written iteration of your testimony.
It can take several weeks to complete, and all parties will receive a copy. The transcript memorializes what transpired and can be critical during motion practice, trial, and even appeal.
Transcript Review & Evaluation
Once the parties receive the transcript, they review it with their respective attorneys.
This provides an opportunity to correct any mistakes. And after reviewing the transcript, the parties may discover they should subpoena another witness to be deposed.
At this time, your lawyer will also assess and evaluate your case based on the testimony of all witnesses. In other words, they will get a better sense of whether a settlement is imminent or if a trial is your best move.
Settlement or Trial
Finally, once all depositions and discovery are complete, your case will resolve in a settlement or proceed to trial. Remember that lawsuits are fluid and evolving, and cases can settle at any time, even before depositions occur.
Settlement negotiations are ongoing, and if you didn’t get a good offer before depositions were taken, you might get one after.
Ultimately, if an offer is made, you decide whether to accept the offer or go to trial.
Los Angeles Car Accident Law Firm
If you are involved in a car accident, a lawyer will help you make well-informed decisions regarding your legal recourse.