Deposing the driver in an auto accident

When an lawyer prepares to take a deposition for a lawsuit he or she usually has an outline of topics to cover. In lawsuits based on car accidents, depositions usually begin with broad general topics, and then later get into more specific areas of the car accident.

The following outline is for information that a lawyer might ask in a deposition of a driver in a car accident. These areas apply both to a deposition that the defense lawyer might take of you, and to a deposition that your personal injury lawyer might take of the other driver.

Personal background

All names ever used.
Present and past residences for 10 years.
Birth date.
Social Security number.
Complete marital history.
Military history.
Employment on the date of the car accident.

The car

Description of the car (that you were driving).
Owner of your car.
Motor vehicle licenses you held.
Your experience in operating cars generally.
Your experience before car accident date in operating your car.
Maintenance done on your car in the past year on items critical to the car accident (such as brakes, lights, turn signals).
Prior safety checks of cars, or problems with the equipment.
History of your car (previous wrecks and repairs).
Was every relevant mechanical element of the car in perfect order?
What was not in perfect order on your car?
How long had you known that the element was not working perfectly or correctly?
When was the last time you actually walked around and saw that the turn signals were working?

The car accident site

Your familiarity with site.
Your prior knowledge of traffic controls at the site.
Your prior experience in stopping or obeying traffic controls there.
Your prior experience in stopping for other traffic there, or otherwise having to be observant or modify behavior because of other traffic there.
Character of area (residential, commercial, open farmland).

Situation before impact

What time did you get up that day?
What did you do that day before the collision?
Any intoxicating liquors taken within the preceding 12 hours? If so, what, when, where, and reasons for consumption
After the collision, was a sobriety test given? If so, what type?
Were any drugs or medicines taken within the preceding 12 hours? If so, amount and when.
Who prescribed these drugs or medicines?
What is his/her address?
Were any recreational drugs taken within the 24 hours preceding collision?
In the week preceding the collision?
What was your exact route from departure to accident site?
Stops prior to collision?
Purpose of trip?
Weather and visibility?
Traffic conditions?
The names and addresses of passengers in the vehicle.
Why was each passenger in the vehicle?
Who directed the route?
What was each passenger doing on the way to the accident scene?
At any time in this trip, were there complaints about driving?
Were there any shouts by the passengers before the collision?
Did a passenger touch the steering wheel?
Was there any distraction before the collision?
Were you using a cell phone?
Was the radio on?
Was an animal involved?
Was a pedestrian involved?
Were you smoking?
Was the air conditioner on?
Distance from impact attention returned

First sighting of other vehicle

Position of the other vehicle in relation to any geographical landmark.
Position of your vehicle in regard to that same geographical landmark.
Distance of your vehicle from the other vehicle when it was first seen.
Speed of your vehicle when the other vehicle was first seen.
Estimated speed of the other vehicle when it was first seen.
Existence of additional vehicles in the area and what those vehicles were doing.
All movements of your vehicle from first sight of the other vehicle until impact.
All movements of the other vehicle.
Stop sign or traffic control signal involved, if any.
Was a pedestrian involved? If so, where did pedestrian come from?

The impact

Exact position of the other vehicle at the moment of impact.
Exact position of your vehicle at the moment of impact.
Parts of each vehicle that came together.
Every movement of all vehicles after moment of impact.
How fast your vehicle was traveling at the moment of impact.
How fast the other vehicle was traveling at the moment of impact.
Attempts you made to move your vehicle right or left to avoid impact.
If horn of any vehicle was sounded, where each vehicle was then located.

After impact

Relative to each other, after vehicles came to rest, exact position of each vehicle.
After the vehicles came to rest immediately after the collision, were the vehicles moved?
All physical damage sustained by both vehicles: type and location of damage.
What happened after the accident.
Did the police come to the scene?
Did other emergency units come to the scene?
Any conversation with any person on the scene after the collision?
What you saw at the accident site.
Where were the vehicles taken after the collision?
What collision damage to either vehicle has been repaired?
Where are the vehicles now?
Traffic charges and disposition.
Any personal injuries you received because of the collision.
Other persons hurt in the collision.
Were any photos taken of the scene or the car?
Have any models or diagrams been made of the accident?
Were there any newspaper reports about the collision?
Any reports given to your employer?
Anything from the scene or either vehicle taken and retained by you or your insurer or employer?
Are there any written or recorded statements made by you?

Witnesses to collision

Describe the person.
Where was the witness at the time of the collision?
What did the witness see?
What did the witness do?
What did the witness tell you?

How you left the scene

How, when and with whom did you leave?

Revisiting the scene

Since the accident, have you been back to the scene?
When? Why? With whom? What was done? Who did it?
Since the accident, has anyone else inspected the scene?
When? Why? With whom? What was done? Who did it?