Depositions in Car Accident Cases: It Depends on What Your Definition of Is Is


So, we just finished deposition a tractor trailer driver who was involved in a collision with a motorcycle that kill the cyclist. The truck driver had been driving down a road with two lanes on each side of a grass median and he had taken a left turn. While being asked the questions in deposition, he was asked several times whether he turned from the left hand hand lane. He was asked whether he got into the right hand lane as some tractor trailer drivers are prone to do. They tend to take wide angles on the turn to allow the tandem wheels to track properly around the curb.

The driver testified that he swung barely to the right to execute the left hand turn and then swore up and down that he never got into the right hand lane to make the turn. After a break, the driver retreated from the deposition room with his lawyers and spent 40 minutes; probably being forced to look at photographs of the tractor trailer after the crash showing clearly that the rear tandem wheels were in the right lane at the time of impact.

The problem with situations like this is that lawyers for trucking companies in Atlanta tend to recognize when their witness is going off script and try to correct them. When we resumed the deposition after coaching by his accident attorneys, he tried to backpeddle stating that he DID go into the right lane. His lawyers recognized that their truck driver’s testimony was badly contradicted by the photos.

We work a lot of tractor trailer collisions and this case is typical in many respects. The trucking company deployed a lawyer minutes after the crash and he was there quickly enough to take pictures of the corpse of the deceased on the ground. From 20 minutes after the crash, the trucking company is already putting their defense together and by the time the family calls us months later, the witnesses that are helpful to our case are ghosts.

This is the frustrating reality and the best thing that the victim’s family can do is get their own lawyers involved in the early going and that runs contra to the instincts of most conservative Georgians.

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