Personal injury claims often lead to lawsuits, and lawsuits often lead to depositions. Hopefully, settlement comes sometime after that, although there is no guarantee. The entire process will probably take a few months. So what needs to happen between deposition and settlement?

The Pretrial Discovery Process

The pretrial discovery process only happens after your claim has matured into a lawsuit. That is because a deposition is court-enforced, and the court will not enforce your deposition unless you file a lawsuit. “Court-enforced” means that the court can sanction any party who refuses to cooperate.

The pretrial discovery process includes the following legal tools (which either side can use against the other side):

  • Depositions (see below for a description);
  • Interrogatories (written questions that the recipient must answer under oath);
  • Demands to copy documents;
  • Demands to inspect physical evidence (such as a car damaged in an auto accident); and
  • Requests for admissions (“You were in Dallas on the evening of July 21, 2023 – admit or deny.”)

The pretrial discovery process often takes a few months to complete.

How Depositions Work

Depositions usually take place in a conference room of a law office. Parties present include the court reporter, lawyers for both sides, and witnesses. The judge probably won’t be there. A videographer will probably videotape the deposition.

How Deposition Testimony Leads to Settlement

In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff (the accident victim) doesn’t have enough evidence to win their claim without completing an evidence-gathering phase. The problem is that in many cases, the opposing party holds critical evidence. The at-fault party in a car accident might have critical data stored in their event data recorder, for example.

After you file a lawsuit, you can pursue the pretrial discovery phase where each side demands evidence from the other. Deposition testimony is one of these forms of evidence. 

After you have gathered evidence at the deposition and other pretrial discovery procedures, such as interrogatories and demands for the production of physical evidence, one of the following outcomes is likely:

  • You abandon your lawsuit after the discovery process (including depositions) yields too little evidence to allow you to meet your burden of proof.
  • You abandon your lawsuit after the discovery process yields evidence that is unfavorable to you.
  • You lower your settlement demand after the discovery process yields evidence indicating that the accident was partly your fault, even if it was mostly the defendant’s fault. This can lead to a settlement based on contributory fault.
  • The defendant yields to your settlement demands after the discovery process tilts the balance of evidence so far in your favor that they realize they will probably lose if the case goes to trial.

The last option is obviously what you’ll be hoping for.


If you cannot reach a settlement even after pretrial discovery, you can try inviting a third-party mediator to help you reach a voluntary settlement of your dispute. The judge is likely to push for this, and they might even require you to at least try mediation before they schedule a trial.

Drafting a Settlement Agreement

In a settlement agreement, you agree to forever drop your claims against the defendant, and in exchange, they agree to pay you a certain amount of money. The exact wording of the document matters and lawyers for both sides may spend some time quibbling over this wording.

You Need a Lawyer To Help You Handle a Deposition

Depositions aren’t any fun, at least if you’re the one answering the questions. They can also get you into a lot of trouble if you mishandle them. If you’ve already filed a lawsuit, you might already have a lawyer. 

If you do, make sure and ask your lawyer to help you with your deposition. If you don’t already have a lawyer, then get one as quickly as you can. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 420-7000

Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
109 York Ave Suite #201
Weatherford, TX 76086
(817) 409-7000