By: Allan M. Siegel
Depositions are oral examinations where lawyers for both sides (the plaintiff
and defendant) are present and a record is made by a court reporter. The
main goal for a deposition is to create a written record of the testimony
of a witness under oath.
car accident lawsuit is filed, a party to a case may take a deposition of anyone, whether
or not that person is a party. An individual being deposed must be provided
adequate notice before the deposition takes place.
Depositions are taken before anyone authorized to administer an oath, but
this usually means a court reporter. This court reporter will right down
everything the person being deposed (the “deponent”) says.
Sometimes depositions are videotaped, but usually depositions are only
transcribed by written text because it is more economical. This dynamic
is important to understand, because the court reporter cannot write down
a deponent’s smirks, eye-rolling, angry expressions, or other communications
that do not translate to the written page. If you are being deposed, make
certain that you orally state everything that you want preserved for the record.
Depositions are used to preserve factual testimony, which can be critical
to your auto accident case. Did a witness actually see you run a red light?
Was the driver who hit you distracted by her children in the backseat?
Did the truck driver fail to check his side mirrors to see if there was
a bicyclist in the bike lane before merging over? These are the type of
questions that a deposition can help answer and establish a record. Deposition
answers can later be used at trial to impeach witnesses who change their
story. It can also establish a factual record for a case and enable both
parties to have a clearer picture of the respective merits and demerits
of their cases. Sometimes, a party who has resisted settlement may change
their tune after a particularly devastating deposition performance.
During a deposition, the lawyer for the other side will have an opportunity
to ask a number of wide-open questions. In general, a deponent will have
to answer all questions, unless the answer would invade a legally protected
privilege, such as attorney-client privilege.
Depositions can be an extremely important part of an auto accident case.
If you have a deposition scheduled in your case, make sure to talk to
your lawyer in advance so you are adequately prepared and make the most
of the time. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we understand
the importance of a well-executed deposition and have found that some
cases are won and lost during depositions. If you suffered from a catastrophic
personal injury in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia, please
contact us for a prompt, free consultation with an attorney.