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Depositions: Lawsuit Basics

If your personal injury case does not settle it is likely that you are going to trial. As part of the pre-trial process is the discovery process. During this process there is what is called a deposition. This article and subsequent ones will discuss depositions as part of the pre-trial process of discovery.

This article series on depositions will discuss the following:

  • What they are?
  • Reasons for depositions
  • Compelling a witness to attend a deposition
  • How they work in personal injury cases
  • Deposition strategies in a personal injury case

Depositions: Basics

The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute defines a deposition as “a witness’s sworn out-of-court testimony”. Put simply, a deposition is a question-and-answer session that is used to gather information about the case. It further allows parties to find out the likely evidence that will be used by the either side.

Depositions happen after filing a lawsuit but before the case goes to trial or a settlement is made. When a deposition is being carried out a person presents themselves at a specific time and place. There they give their sworn testimony; which is under oath. In most cases there is a court reporter present to make a record of the deposition. The deposition is similar to what happens at trial; a lawyer will ask questions to the person and they respond. There are some circumstances where the testimony provided may be used in court.

The idea of a deposition seems like disarming oneself to find out what the other party has up their sleeve. However, there are a number of reasons for taking a deposition, some of these are, to:

  • get important facts regarding the case
  • gather information on the strengths and weaknesses of other party’s arguments in the case
  • determine how credible, sympathetic and/or effective a plaintiff or witness is when testifying at trial
  • find out how and when the accident or injury happened

 

 

 

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