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As an injury attorney, we conduct depositions regularly. In a deposition, the deponent is sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Each word, including every question and every answer, is taken down by a court reporter.
In an injury case, the majority of controversy is not usually how the crash actually occurred. By the time of oral discovery, fault is usually established. But, when anyone is describing a crash, I am always struck by how poorly most folks estimate times and distance.
Real life examples:
- Defendant who backed down a driveway several hundred feet, striking a man and dragging his body testifies under oath he only moved “5-10 feet.”
- Plaintiff, who was leaving a dead stop at a four way stop and was hit, testified that it happened really fast after she left the stop sign. “How fast?” Answer: “It was fast, maybe a minute.”
- Witness: “How long did you sit at the red light before it changed?” Answer: “5 minutes.”
- Defendant, pulling out across a wide open highway with great visibility, testified that no one was coming when he pulled away from stop sign, and the other car “just appeared out of nowhere.”
It is clear that “a minute” seems to run far faster to most people than counting off 60 seconds in the childhood way of “One-Mississippi, Two Mississippi…”
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No normal red light makes you wait 5 minutes, and it takes a mere few seconds to clear an intersection, and cars do not just “appear.”
While exactitude is not expected, gross generalizations like these can needlessly erode one’s credibility. After all, we all use misleading terms all the time. We say, “Sunrise and Sunset” even though the sun is, of course, not moving; the Earth is. We exaggerate and tell our teens, “If we have told them once, we have told them a million times.”
When your lawyer tells you not to exaggerate or estimate, but be as accurate as possible, this is why.
Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in truck, motorcycle, and car crashes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles maybe accessed.