Deposing the defendant driver
This is a sample of deposition questions that your personal injury lawyer might ask the defendant driver in an car accident lawsuit.
This sample is from an actual deposition that was taken of a driver that caused a car accident by rear-ending the plaintiff’s car. The defendant-driver’s defense was that the plaintiff’s car was traveling below the speed limit without its lights on.
Some parts of this sample show the answers that the defendant gave in his deposition.
The witness’s background
Q: Please tell me briefly about your education.
Q: What is the highest level of education you have completed?
Q: Where did you grow up?
Q: Are you employed?
Q: Who do you work for?
Q: What is your title?
Q: What other jobs have you held in your life?
Q: Have you ever pled guilty or been convicted of any crime other than a minor traffic violation?
The witness’s preparation for the deposition
Q: When did you first learn of this deposition?
Q: How did you learn about it?
Q: What did you do to prepare for the deposition today?
Q: Did you review any documents in preparation for the deposition today?
Q: What documents did you review?
Q: Did you have any communications with anyone about your deposition today, other than your lawyers?
The witness’s relationship to other parties and witnesses
Q: The Plaintiff in this case is _______. Did you know him/her before the day of the collision?
Q: The defendants in this case, other than yourself, are _______ and ________. Did you know either of them before the day of the collision?
Q: Prior to the day of the collision, did you know anyone who claims to be a witness to the collision?
Events leading up to the car accident
Q: What were the weather conditions on _________, in the area of the collision?
A: “Clear and dry.”
Q: Where were you going that day?
A: “I was driving from my home in Peoria, Nebraska, and my ultimate destination was Springfield, Missouri.”
Q: What was the purpose of the trip?
A: “A quick getaway to see some relatives.”
Q: Who else was with you?
A: “My wife.”
Q: There was a mention in the police report of a dog. Did you have a dog in the car?
A: “Yes, we had our dog with us.”
Q: At the time of the collision, where was the dog?
A: “Sitting on my wife’s lap in the front seat.”
Q: You set out that morning from your home?
Q: What time did you leave that morning?
A: “About 9:30 a.m.”
Q: How long had you been driving at the time when the collision happened?
A: “About an hour.”
Q: Tell me what you recall about the collision?
A: “Everything from the start to the end?”
Q: That would be great. Then I’ll go back and ask you some more questions.
A: “We were driving along in the center lane of the interstate at about 65 miles an hour and happened to notice a fire engine in the prairie over to the right. I glanced over there. It couldn’t have been longer than a second, just glanced over, and then I looked back up to the rearview mirror and then forward and that quick—there was nobody in front of me before, now there was this car right in front of me, probably about 10 or 12 car lengths ahead of me. I remember distinctly saying, ‘Oh, ___,’ slammed on the brakes and was able to slow down substantially before hitting the rear end square. And I remember—probably I had got my car down to 25 or 30 miles per hour. And I remember upon hitting the vehicle in front of me, it just like jumped forward a couple of feet and then it pulled over to the left and I pulled over to the right.”
Central events of the car accident
Q: At the point that you looked up and noticed the car in front of you, were the lights on, if you know?
A: “I didn’t see any lights.”
Q: But you did see the car?
Q: At the scene, you told a police officer that you thought that the car you hit was only going 5 miles an hour?
A: “It was damn near stopped.”
Q: You know that others have testified that it was going at least 45 miles per hour?
Q: In light of that, is it still your testimony that the car you hit was only going 5 miles per hour?
Q: That’s your estimate made from the driver seat of your car just before the collision?
Q: At the time of the impact you think you were going between 25 and 30 miles per hour?
Q: Why do you think that?
Q: What kind of damage was done to your car?
Q: Did your air bags deploy at the time of the collision?
Q: Were you wearing your seat belt?
Q: Was your wife wearing her seat belt?
Q: Were either of you injured?
Q: What happened to the dog at the time of the impact?
A: “The dog ended up on the floor of the front seat in front of my wife.”
Q: Now, you said that to your right just before the collision, you noticed there was a fire?
A: “I noticed there was a fire engine.”
Q: Did you see a fire?
Q: Did you see smoke?
Q: How far away was the fire engine?
Q: Did you see any people?
Q: What was happening over there on your right.
A: “It was just a quick glance. I saw a fire truck and that was it.”
Q: Was it parked or moving?
A: “It appeared to be parked.”
Q: Why did it appear to be parked?
Q: Did you have any conversation with your wife about the fire truck before the impact of the collision?
Q: How much time passed between the time you glanced over and the point of impact?
Q: Why didn’t you go to the right or to the left to get around the car in front of you?
After the car accident
Q: What did you do after the impact?
Q: What did you do with the dog?
Q: Could you see what happened to the people in the car that you hit?
Q: Did you talk to those people?
Q: Who did you talk to on the scene after the collision?
A: “The only person I talked to was a police officer.”
Q: Which police officer?
Q: Tell me about your conversation with the police officer?
Q: Have you read his report?
Q: Is his summary of your conversation accurate?
Q: Did your wife talk to anyone at the scene of the collision?
Q: How long were you at the scene?
Q: What else did you do there, other than what you have already told me about?
Q: How did you leave the scene of the collision?
Defendant’s activities on the day of the car accident
Q: What was your destination at the time the collision happened on _______?
Q: Tell me what you did on the morning of the accident.
Q: Tell me all the other places you went on _______, before the collision occurred?
Q: Did you speak to anyone on _______, before the collision?
Alcohol and drugs
Q: Did you consume any sort of alcoholic drink within 24 hours of the collision?
Q: Did you take any type of medication within 24 hours of the collision?
Q: Was there a reason your ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired on _______?
Condition of the defendant’s vehicle before the car accident
Q: Do you service your automobile regularly?
Q: Where do you service it?
Q: When was the last time before the collision that you had your automobile serviced?
Condition of the vehicles after the car accident
Q: Following the collision, did you look at the Plaintiff’s car?
A: “I just saw it from the back.”
Q: What did you see?
Q: How far away were you?
Q: You didn’t inspect the Plaintiff’s vehicle closely?
Q: Are you familiar with the damage to your own vehicle?
Q: What damage did your car sustain in the collision?
Q: Did you have the damage repaired?
Q: Let me hand you what I’ve marked Exhibit 1. Is that a copy of your repair bill?
Q: On page 2 of that document, does it list the damage your car sustained in the collision?
Q: The total bill for the repair was $_______?
Q: What other damage did your car sustain in the collision other than what is listed on page 2 of Exhibit 1?
Q: I’m handing you what’s been marked Exhibit 2. Is that a photograph of the way your car looked after the collision?
Q: When was the photograph taken?
A: A day after the collision.
Q: Is Exhibit 2 a fair and accurate representation of the way your car looked the day after the collision?
Q: What damage does it show to your vehicle?
Q: Did anyone receive traffic tickets stemming from the collision?
Q: Who received tickets?
A: “I did.”
Q: Who gave you the ticket?
Q: What did the officer say to you about the ticket?
Q: What did you say in response?
Q: What was the ticket for?
A: “Failure to slow.”
Q: Did you plead guilty and pay a fine?
Q: Do you think you should have received the ticket?
A: “No. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Q: Why not?
Plaintiff’s contributory negligence
Q: Earlier in the deposition, you said that the Plaintiff was driving too slowly on the highway and didn’t have her lights on. Do you remember that testimony?
Q: What else did my client do wrong, if anything?
A: “The accident happened in the center lane. The Plaintiff was driving slowly. She should have been in the far right lane.”
Q: So you’re saying that the Plaintiff was driving in the wrong lane?
Q: Other than driving too slowly, failing to have her lights on, and driving in the wrong lane, is there anything else that the Plaintiff did that you think contributed to the collision?
Q: Other than driving too slowly, failing to have her lights on, and driving in the wrong lane, do you have any other criticisms of the Plaintiff?
Q: When the collision occurred, was other traffic on the highway?
Q: The traffic was moving in both directions?
Q: You observed traffic in the five minutes before the collision?
Q: Many of the vehicles that you observed did not have their lights turned on?
Q: Who are the witnesses to the collision, to your knowledge?
A: “Just me, my wife, the Plaintiff, and the guy who was listed in the police report.”
Q: That was Mr. _______?
Q: Other than you, the Plaintiff, and Mr. _______, are you aware of any other witnesses to the collision?
Knowledge of conversations
Q: A little earlier, you said that you did not speak to my client at the scene of the collision?
A: “That’s right.”
Q: Have you spoken to my client at any other time?
Q: On the day of the collision, did you overhear my client say anything?
A: “I saw him speaking to the police officer.”
Q: Did you hear anything that he said?
Q: Is it correct that you’ve never heard any comments made by my client?
A: “That’s correct.”
Q: On _______, you gave a statement to an insurance investigator, is that right?
A: “I’m not sure what the date was.”
Q: Let me hand you what’s been marked as Exhibit 3. Can you tell me what that is?
A: “It’s a copy of a statement I gave.”
Q: And you signed it on what date?
Q: Is that your signature on that document?
Q: When you gave that statement, were you being truthful?
Q: Did you at any time other than _______, give someone an account of what happened on the day of the collision?
Q: You haven’t given any statements other than the one we’ve marked Exhibit 3?
Informal statements and interviews
Q: Setting aside questions from your own lawyer, and other than the formal statement you told me about, has anyone interviewed you about what happened on the day of the collision?
A: “Yes, the police officer at the scene.”
Q: That’s the police officer who wrote the accident report?
Q: Other than your own lawyer, the investigator from the insurance company who took your statement, and the police officer at the scene, has anyone else interviewed you about what happened on the day of the collision?
Conversations about the car accident or the lawsuit
Q: Other than the people you have already told me about in the deposition today, have you had any conversations with anyone else about the collision or this lawsuit?
A: “Yes, I talked about the accident with my wife.”
Q: What was it about the accident you discussed with your wife?
A: “Just what happened, same as I told you. The sorts of things a husband tells his wife.”
Q: Other than your wife and the other people you’ve told me about today, is there anyone else with whom you’ve discussed the collision or the lawsuit?
Q: Have you talked to anyone who claims to be a witness to the collision?
Photographs and diagrams
Q: Your attorney has given me 14 photographs that were taken of your car after the collision. Let me hand you these to look at. Have you seen them before?
Q: Other than the fourteen photographs that I just handed you, are you aware of any other photographs relating to the collision of _______?
Q: Other than the diagram contained in the police report, have you seen or reviewed any other diagrams relating to the collision of _______?