Important Information Regarding Your Case
We would like to give you a general outline of what to expect as we handle your injury claim. Not all claims are handled exactly the same way but we feel that it will be helpful if we can provide you with a general overview of what to expect.
The preparation of your case is a working partnership. It is a process of finding and preserving (not changing) the evidence. Please confide in us. We need all the evidence, whether good or bad. Please carefully review the enclosed "Important Reminders".
In the beginning stages of your case, we will notify the other party and any involved insurance companies that you have retained us to represent you. We will also request the insurance company to give us a copy of any statements you may have given them before you retained us. From this point on, do not talk to anyone about your accident except one of the lawyers or assistants from our office. Do not even talk to your own insurance company or to any lawyers or investigators hired by your own insurance company without notifying us so that we may be present. If anyone contacts you about the case, refer them to us.
We will send letters to your doctors and hospitals, notifying them that you have retained us to represent you and requesting that they do not give medical information to the insurance adjuster for the other party. We will contact the investigating officer and witnesses for their statements. We may also request your employment information to document your economic loss.
Progress of the case - medical issues
It is important to realize that your case cannot be settled until your injuries have been fully evaluated. It generally takes some time to obtain the necessary medical information because a doctor cannot answer many questions until your treatment has reached a plateau. Typically, we will have to wait six to nine months from the date of an accident before we receive a full medical report regarding your injuries from your doctor.
Most people worry about testifying at a deposition. The purpose of these "Pointers" is to help you understand what is expected and put to you at ease with regard to your testimony. Your attorney will meet with you prior to your deposition and will attend the deposition with you.
1. WHAT IS A DISCOVERY DEPOSITION?
A deposition is a pre-trial question and answer session where a court reporter records your answers to the defendant's lawyer's questions. The deposition will take place in a conference room at our office or a court reporter's office, not in a courtroom.
2. PURPOSE OF DISCOVERY DEPOSITIONS
The other party's attorney is taking your deposition primarily for two reasons:
- to learn more about your case
- to evaluate how you will appear to a jury
3. YOUR APPEARANCE
You should remember that your deposition is usually the first opportunity that the opposing counsel has to meet you. It is important that you make a good impression upon opposing counsel and his client and you should appear at the deposition dressed as you would expect to dress if you were actually going to court to appear before the jury.
(a) You should wear clean, neat clothing.
(b) Treat all persons in the deposition room with respect.
(c) Come prepared to show any and visible injuries.
4. HOW TO ACT WHILE GIVING YOUR TESTIMONY
(a) Tell the truth. Your credibility is a crucial factor in your case.
(b) Be pleasant and reasonable. The best thing that you can do to improve your settlement possibilities is to make a good impression on the defendant's attorney.
(c) Never lose your temper.
(d) If you do not understand the question, ask that it be explained.
(e) Do not volunteer information. Give concise answers and the STOP.
(f) Stick to the facts and testify only about what you personally know.
(g) Tell the truth about your injuries; do not minimize or exaggerate.
(h) Testify only to basic facts and do not attempt to give opinions or estimates of time and distance unless you have good reason for knowing such matters.
(i) If you do not know the answer to a question, simply admit that you do not know the answer. Some witnesses think they should have an answer for every question asked. You cannot know all the facts, and you do yourself a disservice if you attempt to testify to facts with which you are not acquainted. It is IMPERATIVE that you be HONEST and STRAIGHTFORWARD in your testimony.
(j) Do not tell the defendant's attorney (or anyone else) anything that your attorneys have said to you. All communication between you and your attorney is confidential. Specifically, do not tell the defendant's attorney that we have referred you to a doctor.
(k) Take breaks whenever you need to. It is important for you to be comfortable while you testify. If you need a break for any reason or IF YOU WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR ATTORNEY, simply say "May we take a break?" Be sure to confer with you attorney during every break.
(l) Be aware that the defendant my have conducted video surveillance of you. During the deposition, the defendant's attorney will ask you to list activities that you are no longer able to perform because of your injuries. It will significantly damage you credibility and your case if the defendant has video of you doing something that you claim you are unable to do.
(m) Be careful to testify accurately regarding your medical history. The defendant will subpoena all of your medical records, including records from before your accident. At the deposition, the defendant's attorney will question you regarding your medial history. It will hurt your credibility and your case if the defendant can show that you had similar medical problems in the past and you testify that you did not.
Instructions regarding examination by defendant's doctor
- Be cooperative but, remember that the doctor is not examining you to help your medical condition, but for the purpose of testifying for the Defendant.
- Tell the truth. Answer the doctor's questions openly and completely but do not volunteer information.
- Be careful when telling how the collision occurred. The doctor is entitled only to know generally how you were hurt. If he asks you how the accident happened, tell him in simple and general terms. Avoid giving details about distances, time, speed, or other such details relating to how the accident happened.
- Be careful when discussing your other doctors. If asked what your doctors have told you about your medical condition, answer in a general way. For example: "He says I will have trouble for the rest of my life." or "He says I am getting better, but it is going to take time."
- The examination will begin as soon as the doctor sees you. He will watch your movements, perhaps while taking off your coat or climbing on and off the examination table. The doctor may also use distraction methods where he pretends to be interested in one part of your body, but is actually interested in testing another part of your body. The doctor may also observe you as you walk into and out of the doctor's office.
What is mediation?
At a mediation conference, an impartial mediator attempts to encourage both sides to reach a compromise settlement. In all cases, mediators emphasize that, by reaching a settlement at mediation, both parties can avoid the expense of going to trial as well as the risk of obtaining an unfavorable result at trial. Mediation, unlike arbitration, is not binding and you are not required to accept a settlement at mediation.
While neither side is obligated to agree to a settlement at mediation, mediations often result in settlements. Mediation is a very important even. Your attorney will meet with you prior to mediation to discuss strategy. At mediation, your attorney will make a presentation on your behalf. Unlike the deposition, you will not need to answer any questions or make any statements at the mediation conference.
Serving injured individuals and families in Vero Beach, Sebastian, Fellsmere, Fort Pierce, Palm Bay and Melbourne.
The attorneys of Tuttle Servos, P.A. serve the needs of individuals and their loved ones who feel they have been victims of careless or negligent actions of others. For a free consultation about your case, call us today at 772-563-0032 or contact us online.