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Getting the Facts: What Happens After a Deposition in a Car Accident Case

A car accident can turn your world upside down. Your vehicle may be damaged, leaving you struggling to get from point A to point B. You may be injured, trying to make sense of your new reality, and juggling your day-to-day responsibilities between doctor’s appointments. On top of all that, you will need to determine whether you are entitled to compensation for your expenses. Should you decide to pursue legal action against the other parties involved in the accident, the process can be complicated.

Personal injury lawsuits often involve processes that you may be totally unfamiliar with. For example, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be required to respond to interrogatories or participate in a deposition. Undoubtedly, the personal injury claims process will involve big decisions that may affect the amount of compensation you can recover. You may have to decide whether you will benefit more from settling your claim or proceeding to trial.

Read on to learn more about the discovery phase of a car accident case and what you can expect after.

Building Your Case

As you think about your circumstances, you may be considering filing a lawsuit. Two important components of your case will be demonstrating negligence and establishing damages. The strength of the evidence supporting each of these elements will help you make important decisions about how to handle your case.

Negligence

To prevail in a car accident lawsuit, you must demonstrate that the other party acted negligently or intentionally. In addition, you must show that the negligent or reckless behavior caused the accident and your injuries. Depending on the facts of the accident, several different parties may be negligent. Potentially negligent parties include:

  • Another driver. If the other driver violated a traffic law, which caused the accident, they may be found negligent. Examples of traffic violations that may demonstrate negligence include speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, or running a red light. Some evidence of negligence may be included in a police report. However, other evidence of negligence will be harder to determine at the scene of the accident. At times, it may be easier to uncover evidence of negligence through a deposition or interrogatories.
  • Car manufacturer. If any vehicle involved in the accident malfunctioned in a way that caused the accident, the manufacturer may be responsible. Alternatively, your vehicle’s safety equipment mat malfunction. For instance, an airbag may fail to deploy or deploy unnecessarily. In either case, the malfunction may cause you to sustain more severe injuries. To establish whether a vehicle malfunctioned, it may be necessary to conduct a deposition of a mechanic or manufacturer. Document production may also help provide helpful evidence.
  • Local government. If the local government failed to properly maintain the roadway where the accident occurred, they may be liable. Local governments have a duty to maintain roadways that are safe for drivers. If a traffic signal malfunctions and causes an accident, the local government may be responsible for any resulting damages. However, securing information and pursuing a lawsuit against a governmental entity has restrictions and additional requirements that can be complicated to navigate.

To establish negligence, you will need to gather evidence about the events leading up to the accident. A police report or other documentation of the accident scene can provide valuable evidence initially. If law enforcement officers do not respond to the scene, be sure to file a collision report, as this is an obligation under Washington law. To build a strong case, you may also need additional evidence, such as interviews of witnesses or videos of the accident.

Damages

Getting the Facts What Happens After a Deposition in a Car Accident Case Boohoff LawAfter a car accident, you are likely to be dealing with damage to your vehicle and as well as physical injuries. Depending on the seriousness of the accident, injuries can range from scratches and bruises to traumatic brain injuries.

Types of damages that are often recovered after sustaining injuries in a car accident include:

Medical expenses: The amount of your medical expenses will depend on the severity of your injuries. However, medical costs are likely to include doctor’s bills, hospital stays, and medications. If your injuries will require future care or ongoing rehabilitation, these expenses may also be recoverable.

Loss of income: Your injuries may require you to miss work, resulting in lost wages. These lost wages along with future time off are potentially recoverable damages. If your injuries limit your ability to perform your job or opportunities for future advancement, you may recover lost future earnings.

Property damage: Chances are high your car was damaged in the accident. In addition, the accident may have also damaged property you had with you in the vehicle. In your personal injury claim, you can seek the costs of repair or replacement of damaged property.

Emotional distress: Injured victims often experience emotional distress after an accident. Emotional distress can take many forms. For example, victims may experience depression from immobility caused by their injuries or PTSD that is triggered when riding in a car. You may recover for these damages.

Loss of enjoyment: Your injuries may limit your ability to perform activities you previously enjoyed, like playing an instrument or participating in sports. Injured victims may recover for the loss of enjoyment of these activities.

Punitive damages: You may have heard of defendants securing huge sums of money in the form of punitive damages. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate victims for their injuries, but rather, to punish the defendant for egregious behavior. Washington State does not permit a jury to award punitive damages, but in select circumstances, a court may award increased damages.

Calculating some damages will be straightforward, but others may require the input of experts, such as an economist or a medical expert. Include the full extent of the impact of your injuries in your damages claim. Any potential settlement or recovery will be based on the damages you assert in your claim.

Conducting Discovery

While a police report and pictures of the accident scene will provide valuable insight, more in-depth research and evidence is often needed to build a strong case. The phase of a trial where the parties gather evidence is called discovery. The process utilized during discovery and the timeline is mandated by the courts. Parties often mutually agree to extend the timeline for discovery. Scheduling and gathering the required information can be a time- and work-intensive process.

Depositions

Depositions provide sworn, out-of-court, oral testimony of witnesses or parties to a lawsuit. While it is sworn testimony, depositions do not happen in court or before a judge. The person being deposed is the one being questioned. Normally the deposed party, their lawyer (if they have one), the lawyer for the opposing party, and a court reporter are present. Any party to the case and their attorney also have a right to be present.

The deposition is conducted by the lawyer for the opposing party. The attorney for the deposed party can object to questions being asked of their client. Some depositions are calm and simply a fact gathering process. Other times, they can become heated, especially if they are addressing a contentious disputed fact of the case.

All depositions must follow the procedural requirements of the relevant state. After a deposition, a court reporter will generally prepare a transcript for review by both parties. At this point, it is important to identify any errors or omissions in testimony because the testimony may be referenced later in court.

Depositions allow the parties to gather evidence and receive a preview of any evidence that may be used against them at trial. Depositions are also helpful in preserving witness testimony while it is fresh, rather than waiting months or years before a trial.

Interrogatories

While depositions are oral testimony of a witness, interrogatories are written questions provided to the opposing party for response. Interrogatories are also called “requests for further information.” Any questions included in interrogatories must be relevant to the issues involved in the lawsuit. Interrogatories are intended to clarify facts.

For example, in a car accident case, interrogatories may seek to undercover facts that demonstrate the other driver’s negligence, such as:

  • How fast were you driving at the time of the accident?
  • Within the past five years, have you been involved in any other automobile accident?
  • Where were you coming from when the accident occurred? Where were you going?
  • Did you consume any alcohol or medication in the 24 hours before the accident?

The above questions are just examples. However, they are intended to illustrate how well-crafted interrogatories can help draw out important information for the case. The questions will vary for each scenario. Additionally, the responding party will do their best to avoid providing harmful information where possible.

Document Production Requests

Depositions and interrogatories focus on getting information directly from people. In many situations, however, relevant evidence is contained in documents under the control of another party. To gain this information, a party will have to issue document production requests, also called “requests for production.” This is a legal request for documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible items that pertain to the subject matter of the lawsuit.

The other party is not obligated to produce any documents that are protected by attorney-client privilege or any other privilege. Other reasons for not producing documents may be that they are unavailable or if providing the document would be unduly burdensome.

Strategy After Discovery

The discovery phase of the trial, including depositions, will likely provide valuable information that will help evaluate the strength of your case. After this phase is completed, it is a good time to reevaluate your strategy. You may reconsider whether you want to continue to trial or attempt to settle.

Settlement

The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled outside of court. Settlements are often favored because they offer a quicker resolution, more immediate compensation for the victim, and certainty in the outcome. Discovering evidence of the other party’s fault through depositions or other discovery, may provide leverage for an improved settlement offer. Alternatively, if discovery failed to provide you with solid evidence, you may consider a settlement to ensure some recovery.

Trial

While a much smaller percentage of cases proceed through the entire trial process, sometimes this is the better strategy. If the depositions or other discovery provide strong facts to support your position, it may become clear that the settlement offer is inadequate. Knowing you have strong evidence on your side may reduce the risk of an uncertain outcome at trial.

Should you choose to proceed to trial after discovery, it will be necessary to file and resolve any motions about the admissibility of evidence. If key evidence is found to be inadmissible, this may be another juncture to consider your settlement options. The jury will also be selected before the trial officially begins.

The parties are authorized to settle at any point before a final verdict is issued by the jury. The amount of negotiation power will depend on whether the arguments in the courtroom tend to support your position.

Contact an Attorney for Help

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Car Accident Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

Many aspects of a personal injury case can be overwhelming and complicated. While it may be very clear that you were injured in the accident, it is often not enough to ensure you will recover for your damages.

A qualified attorney can help injured victims analyze the facts of their case and prepare a strategy for seeking recovery. Additionally, an attorney can build leverage during the discovery phase of the trial to benefit the case. Depositions, interrogatories, and production requests are valuable tools for securing evidence to support your claims of negligence and damages.

If, however, you don’t follow the procedural requirements, you may not receive any helpful information. Experienced attorneys are familiar with the procedural requirements associated with discovery. They may ensure that injured victims can secure the facts to support their cases.

After you have completed discovery, and throughout the process, you will want to continuously explore your settlement options. When appropriate, an attorney can help evaluate any settlement offer and consider the pros and cons of settling versus continuing through the trial process.


Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

Paying Medical Bills After a Car Accident – Who is Responsible?

Maybe you saw it happening in slow motion, like in the movies. Or maybe it was a jarring jolt out of the blue, leaving you shaken and shocked. No matter how it happens, being involved in a car accident is a traumatic event no one wants to experience. Car accidents almost always result in property damage and frequently cause injuries with varying degrees of severity. Unfortunately, accidents occur more than we would like to believe. In the United States, there are six million car accidents each year.

Accidents are always unexpected and usually traumatic experiences. After you recover from the shock, you might be thinking “This wasn’t my fault, so why am I paying all these medical bills?” When another’s negligence contributes to an accident that causes injuries, they may be liable for any resulting costs. Liable parties may be responsible for medical bills and any other accident-related damages.

Read on to learn more about how to recover financial compensation for medical bills and other damages after a car accident.

Establishing Fault

Paying Medical Bills After a Car Accident Who is Responsible Boohoff LawThe first step in determining whether another party might be responsible for your medical bills is establishing fault. To establish fault, injured parties must demonstrate that another’s actions were intentional or negligent when causing their injuries.

Oftentimes, the driver who caused the accident was negligent in doing so. However, there are additional parties who may be responsible for damages caused by the accident. Potentially liable parties may include:

Another driver: If you were hit by another driver who acted negligently, they should bear the responsibility of your damages, including medical bills. If the driver was violating any traffic laws at the time of the accident, their behavior will likely be considered negligent. Accidents commonly occur when a driver runs a red light, speeds, or drives under the influence of alcohol. All of which involve a violation of every state’s traffic laws.

Driver’s employer: When employees, acting within the scope of their employment, cause an accident, the employer may share liability for the resulting damages. For example, if you are hit by a truck driver on their delivery route, the employer may bear responsibility for the driver’s actions.

Local government: Perhaps a large pothole or a broken traffic signal caused your accident. The local government might share in the liability for any accidents caused by inadequate roadway maintenance. Local government agencies have a duty to keep the roadways of their towns safe for drivers. Inadequate maintenance or a failure to properly monitor road conditions are a breach of this duty. Unlike many states, Washington permits individuals to file claims against governmental entities to recover financial compensation for any damages caused by the government’s action or inaction.

Vehicle manufacturer: Cars are complicated pieces of machinery, and if any one component fails or malfunctions, there can be dangerous consequences. If a vehicle’s failure to operate properly contributed to an accident causing injury, the manufacturer may be responsible for any resulting damages.

Establishing the fault of another party can be a complicated and fact-intensive process. You will need to ensure that you compile sufficient evidence demonstrating fault. To ensure any evidence from the scene of the accident is preserved, be sure to file a collision report. A collision report may record witness information, photos, and whether any citations were issued. Furthermore, not only will a collision report help collect evidence, but it is also a requirement under Washington law.

Injured victims must consider whether additional evidence, e.g., interviews or documentation, will help to support their case. Should you decide to pursue legal action, after filing a personal injury claim, you will have the opportunity to engage in discovery. During the discovery phase of the claims process, injured parties may interview eyewitnesses or gather documentation of their injuries and treatment. Any piece of evidence that may demonstrate another’s fault will strengthen your claim. Discovery can be a complicated process, but an attorney may help injured parties navigate the process.

Determining Damages

Even when an accident was another party’s fault, injured victims may only recover compensation if they can prove the accident caused them damages. Evaluate all potential damages so that your request for recovery is comprehensive.

Of course, injured parties may be entitled to recover compensation for their medical bills. In addition to medical bills, you might miss work or cannot participate in activities you enjoyed before the accident.

Common damages accident victims may be entitled to include:

  • Medical expenses: In addition to medical bills, you should be sure to consider the cost of future care. Injured victims may recover the costs of long-term rehabilitation or any assistive devices, such as crutches or a wheelchair.
  • Loss of income: Your injuries and medical visits may require you to miss work or work reduced hours. In some cases, injured victims may be entitled to recover for their lost wages. Additionally, your injuries may affect your long term ability to perform job duties or work full time. If this is the case, you may consider seeking recovery for loss of future earnings.
  • Emotional distress: You may be suffering from emotional distress after the accident. Perhaps your injuries have left you isolated and feeling depressed. Car accident victims frequently experience symptoms of PTSD that may be triggered whenever the brakes are slammed in a car. If you are dealing with ongoing emotional distress, those damages may be included in your recovery demand.
  • Property damages: When another’s negligence causes damage to your property, including your vehicle and its contents, you may be entitled to compensation for any necessary repairs or replacement.
  • Loss of enjoyment: Your injuries may keep you from participating in activities you previously enjoyed. For example, if you no longer can play an instrument or participate in sports, you may recover for your loss of enjoyment.

In some cases, injured victims may also be entitled to punitive or compensatory damages. These damages are not meant to compensate victims for the costs of their injuries but rather to punish the behavior that caused the injury. Punitive damages are typically only awarded by a jury, and are generally not available in Washington.

While some damages calculations are straightforward, such as adding up medical bills, others may require the input of experts. For example, an economist may be needed to help predict a victim’s lost future earnings. A medical expert may need to advise on the anticipated costs of future care required for the specific injuries. When appropriate, an attorney may help injured victims coordinate with any necessary experts. Expert testimony can help to ensure that injured victims have sufficient evidence to support their claims for damages.

Working With Insurance Companies

After being involved in an accident, if you are able, you should always exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved. Insurance companies are almost always involved in paying for costs resulting from a car accident. It is important to realize, however, that the insurance companies’ interests may not be aligned with yours. Depending on the amount of coverage the driver’s policy provides, the full extent of your damages may not be recoverable from the insurance company.

When dealing with insurance companies, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Report immediately. Make your insurer aware of the accident and any relevant details as soon as possible. Do not rely on the other party to report the accident to their insurer. They may avoid reporting the accident, especially if they are likely to be found at fault. You may need to contact the other party’s insurer to make them aware. However, be careful not to share too many details when speaking with other driver’s insurance providers.
  • Be cautious. The other party’s insurer is there to represent the interests of the other driver, not your own. Be sure not to say anything that could be interpreted as an admission of your own fault. A seemingly innocent statement about how the accident happened could be twisted to point fault back in your direction.
  • Expect pushback. The responsible party’s insurance company will be motivated to pay the least amount possible for the claims brought against them. Representatives will try to discredit the extent of your injuries and the amount of damages you claim. It is helpful to keep documentation of all medical visits and medical recommendations as evidence.
  • Avoid early settlement. Any early settlement offer from an insurance company is likely an amount that is much less than you deserve. The insurance company will be preying on your need for immediate financial relief to pay your medical bills or repair your vehicle. If you can be patient, it will likely pay off in the long run.
  • Avoid signing paperwork. An insurance company may try to overwhelm you with paperwork, but be sure to read every document before signing it. Oftentimes, settlement agreements will require victims to waive their right to claim additional damages in the future.
  • Be persistent. Insurance companies may try to drag out the process to incentivize you to settle. However, delays in the claims process may potentially cause you to miss the opportunity to file a personal injury claim. In Washington, the statute of limitations requires injured parties to file a personal injury claim within three years of the date of the accident. Washington law places requirements on insurers. Insurance companies have an obligation to act reasonably promptly in response to communications and to promptly settle claims. Make sure the insurance company you are dealing with knows you are familiar with these requirements.

Sometimes, the other party’s insurance company or your insurance company will fully satisfy the damages you claim. In that case, you may not need to file a lawsuit to recover additional damages. Oftentimes, insurance companies will refuse to fully compensate you or the policy limits will be insufficient to cover all of your damages.

When appropriate, an attorney can assist injured parties in communicating and negotiating with insurance representatives. Experienced attorneys can help injured victims evaluate whether the settlement amount offered is fair. An attorney can ensure that you understand your rights under the law and advocate for them appropriately.

When to Expect Payment

Receiving payment for your damages can be a long process. How quickly your claim is resolved will depend on factors that include your desire to settle or take the case to trial.

  • Settlement: All parties in a personal injury claim may settle at any time throughout the claims process. Settlement offers will almost always be lower than the full amount of damages you have requested. On the other hand, you may receive prompt payment when you accept a settlement. However, you must decide whether the benefit of prompt payment outweighs potentially receiving more money by taking the case to trial. The primary benefits of settlement are speedier receipt of payment and certainty of payout.
  • Trial: Taking your case to trial is likely to be a long process. Typically, after initiating a personal injury lawsuit, the parties will complete the discovery stage. Throughout discovery, parties have an opportunity to secure additional evidence. The parties may perform interviews or collect documents. Additional evidence may strengthen your settlement position, or it may demonstrate that you are better off accepting a settlement offer. After discovery, the injured party will decide whether to proceed to trial or resume settlement negotiations. Although you may receive a higher payout at trial, the outcome is never certain. In some instances, a jury may determine that the injured party is not as injured as they claim. In that case, you may receive a lower amount than the insurance company initially offered to pay in a settlement. Given this uncertainty, the majority of personal injury cases are settled before trial.

Ultimately, the amount of time it takes to resolve your claim will depend on whether you are inclined to settle or take the case to trial. Extremely complex cases may take several months or years to reach a resolution without a settlement. It will help to work with an experienced attorney to understand the strength of your case and whether a settlement offer is worth accepting.

Find an Attorney Who Can Help

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Seattle Car Accident Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

If you have suffered from injuries in a car accident, the last thing you want to be doing is fighting to get your medical bills paid. The other party may deny fault or discredit the extent of your injuries. Insurance companies may intentionally delay the claims process in an attempt to encourage you to settle.

A qualified attorney regularly works with injured victims to develop a comprehensive plan for their recovery. Each plan will take into account the unique facts and circumstances of the injured party’s case. An attorney may work with their clients to help them understand and evaluate the evidence.

When appropriate, they may communicate with the other insurance companies and advise a strategy for settlement. Lawyers can also help their clients understand when they should expect to receive payment and how the timing may impact their current financial obligations.


Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999