Zoom & Your Case: What to Expect

June 22, 2021 Legal News

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced changes in how we interact with others. The pandemic invited less face-to-face interaction and imposed six-foot-distancing and mask-wearing rules. The pandemic rushed in a new era of tele-everything – teleworking, telehealth healthcare, teleconsultation with clients, and teleconferences to streamline court proceedings.

Videoconference platforms, such as Zoom, have made it easier for people to communicate without leaving home. Since the legal world has switched to virtual remote proceedings, you will need to learn how to adapt and use these platforms for meetings with your lawyer, depositions, mediations, and other legal proceedings.

If you’re not familiar with using this technology and don’t know what to expect as it pertains to your case, don’t worry! Our attorneys will help you at every step of the way. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, immediately call the Terry Bryant law firm at 713-973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 for a free consultation. Our legal team will answer all your questions. We are available 24/7 to take your call. 

Zoom Depositions

A deposition is a procedure that takes place out of court, where a witness gives testimony about information and facts surrounding a case. The defense counsel representing the other party and their insurance company will want to take your deposition to obtain information from you. Your attorney will also want to take the other party’s deposition and potential witnesses to the accident.

Before the pandemic, you and your attorney would have attended a location where the deposition would occur. The defense counsel and their client would also be present in the same room, along with a court reporter and a translator, if necessary. Attending a physical location for depositions is no longer the norm. Zoom depositions have become the new norm.

Depositions by Zoom require special preparation. The first thing to check off your checklist is to make sure that you have a stable Internet connection and a working microphone. Your deposition may be recorded, and there’s a possibility that it may be played back to a jury. Therefore, you want to make sure that your background remains professional. Let your family members know in advance of your big day to ensure there are no distractions. &nbsp

The Pros of Zoom Depositions:

  • They are easier to schedule than in-person depositions.
  • It removes the need to travel to physical locations, and this translates to expense savings (e.g. travel time, gas, parking).
  • Your attorney can see what everyone else is doing during the deposition because everyone is pictured on the screen.
  • Taking the deposition may be more comfortable for you than having to sit in a law office conference room filled with strangers with an intimidating camera pointing at you.
  • It is easier to present exhibits on the screen for everyone to see instead of printing physical copies. The Zoom platform allows you to mark and annotate exhibits in real-time.

The Cons of Zoom Depositions:

  • Personal interaction is lost in not being physically present in the same room with others.
  • The opposing attorney cannot be sure what the deponent is looking at. The deponent could be referencing a chat on his device that would allow others to assist him in answering the questions, which would be improper and inappropriate.
  • Not having a microphone of good quality or a stable Internet connection can make it difficult for the court reporter to jot down everything precisely as it is being said.
  • People tend to speak over each other more frequently, requiring people to have to repeat themselves.

After depositions have been taken, both parties will likely proceed to participate in a “mediation” to get the case resolved.

Zoom Mediations

Mediation is a process in which a neutral third person, i.e., mediator, assists the parties with achieving the resolution of a case.

Before the pandemic, you and your attorney would attend a location where the mediation would take place. The mediator would make an introduction and then request that the parties break into groups. You and your attorney would go into one room, and defense counsel and their client would go into a different room. The mediator would travel back and forth between the rooms to relay offers, counteroffers, and other comments each side wished to make to the other side.

During the pandemic, Zoom mediations have become the new norm. Instead of breaking into separate physical rooms, each side is placed in different private virtual rooms, with the mediator going back and forth between the virtual rooms.

Mediations by Zoom require special preparation. Zoom mediations require the same planning and preparation that Zoom depositions require. You must familiarize yourself with this technology. If you are not familiar with using this technology, our attorneys at the Terry Bryant Law Firm will help prepare you for this virtual event as they work with you on your case. If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, immediately call the Terry Bryant Law Firm at 713-973-8888 to see how we can help.

The Pros of Zoom Mediations:

  • They are easier to schedule than in-person depositions.
  • It removes the need to travel to physical locations, and this translates to expense savings.
  • It removes the stress of locating an unfamiliar office building and finding parking.
  • Being in the comfort of your home can help ease some of the stress.
  • It allows the mediator to get up close and personal with the parties without invading their personal space.

The Cons of Zoom Mediations:

  • Disruptions and delays in audio and video transmission can affect the flow of communications.
  • Personal interaction is lost in not being physically present in the same room with others.
  • The amenities, e.g., catered lunches, baked goods, coffee, are gone.

Texas held its first (criminal) jury trial via Zoom on August 11, 2020. While Zoom trials can provide an efficient and cost-effective solution to trial, they present issues that have convinced many not to endorse them. Further, jury trials by Zoom may present constitutional implications, which legal experts are expected to debate and comment on in the years to come.

Trial by Zoom requires special preparation. Zoom trials will require the same planning and preparation as Zoom depositions and mediations, and maybe more preparation.

The Pros of Zoom Trials:

  • Working with exhibits and having the participants focus on what is right in front of their screen is facilitated.
  • It is easier to present exhibits on the screen for everyone to see instead of printing physical copies. The Zoom platform allows you to mark and annotate exhibits in real-time.
  • Exhibits may be admitted in a more orderly and timely fashion.

The Cons of Zoom Trials:

  • Personal interaction is lost in not being physically present in the same room with others.
  • Disruptions and delays in audio and video transmission can affect the flow of communications.
  • It may be difficult for participants to maintain the same level of seriousness, professionalism, and sincerity they would show if they were present in person, e.g., a witness giving testimony from inside his car or a witness trying to give testimony while others in their household are distracting them can present problems.
  • Some participants may not take their obligations quite as seriously as if they were going to be present at the courthouse.

Don’t let the fear of having to deal with virtual platforms prevent you from getting the help you need.

Our attorneys at the Terry Bryant Law Firm are ready to help you. If you’ve been recently injured in an accident and have sustained severe injuries, contact our legal team at 713-973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.

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