Posted on Sunday, October 1st, 2023 at 9:00 am
Depositions are a critical part of evidence-gathering in a personal injury case. These are formal witness interviews conducted by an attorney under oath. The answers provided by witnesses in your case can go a long way toward proving your case.
So, what can you expect after a deposition? Each lawsuit is unique, so whether one of these next after-deposition steps happens depends on the answers your attorney gets from witnesses and the choices you and your attorney make.
The Next Steps for Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Each lawyer will obtain a transcript of each deposition. Your lawyer will go over yours with you, checking for inaccuracies.
Depositions can reveal a surprising amount of information about the case. Some witnesses may feel the weight of being under oath when answering questions and may be more forthcoming than they initially were. If the information your lawyer gets from the depositions significantly strengthens your case, the other side may be more willing to settle outside court. In some circumstances, you and your lawyer may want to try to resolve the case before going to trial. Alternative dispute resolution is an option.
Mediation is formal negotiation guided by a trained mediator. Usually, the parties and their respective lawyers are in separate rooms. The mediator goes back and forth between the parties to present offers and demands, to make suggestions, and to help them reach a compromise. Mediation can facilitate communication, especially in contentious cases.
The mediator is not empowered to make decisions in your case. They act only as a neutral third party to attempt to help the parties come together.
Once you and the defendant agree, the mediator or your lawyer can draft a mediated settlement agreement. Both parties sign and then present it to the judge for approval. A mediated settlement agreement isn’t binding until the court approves it.
Like mediation, arbitration happens outside of court and is overseen by an arbitrator. The arbitrator evaluates the evidence presented by both sides and then determines whether the defendant is liable and how much compensation should be paid, if any. In mediation, the two parties agree on a settlement. In arbitration, the arbitrator decides the outcome of the case, and the decision is binding.
Georgia courts have strict, specific rules of evidence in personal injury cases. Some pieces of evidence may be inadmissible in court but could be considered by the arbitrator. So, this may be an option if your lawyer wants to present critical pieces of information that may not be used in court.
A settlement can happen at any point after the lawsuit is filed. Your lawyer may be able to obtain a settlement through a demand letter and negotiations without going through the deposition and discovery process. Or you could agree to a settlement after mediation.
Settlement agreements are binding once the court approves and can include a non-disclosure clause. This is one reason many at-fault parties opt for a settlement. It keeps the specifics of the case out of the public record.
Georgia personal injury lawsuits are tried in civil court before a judge and jury. Each side presents their case. The burden of proof for a civil trial is lower than that in a criminal trial. In criminal court, the defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Finding a defendant liable in civil court only requires a preponderance of the evidence. That means there must be enough evidence to show that it’s more than likely than not that the alleged at-fault party is responsible for the victim’s injury.
How Do I Know Which Option is Right for Me?
Easy – ask your Georgia personal injury lawyer. Your attorney can evaluate the information from all depositions and weigh the impact on your case. Each choice in your personal injury case is yours, although your lawyer can provide valuable legal advice.
You may choose to enter mediation or agree to arbitration if you want to try to avoid a trial. Or you may wish to see justice done in court and continue on to trial.
Do You Need Help with a Personal Injury Claim?
Have you been injured in an accident you didn’t cause? Are you curious about your legal options for seeking compensation for your injuries? We can help.
The experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys of Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C. represent clients injured in many types of personal injury accidents. We can help you recover compensation after a car accident, slip-and-fall, semi-truck collision, or even a dog bite caused by someone else’s wrongdoing. Contact us today at (770) 205-8827 for your free consultation.