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What Is a Deposition and How Is It Used at a Personal Injury Trial?

Understanding One of the Fundamental Ways of Gathering Evidence

what-is-a-deposition-and-how-is-it-used-at-a-personal-injury-trialWhen your attorney is preparing your personal injury case for trial, evidence needs to be collected, evaluated and preserved. Perhaps the most common tool for doing that is a deposition.

What Is a Deposition?

Essentially, a deposition is an interview with a witness. That witness may or may not be a party to the litigation. A deposition typically takes place in the offices of one of the attorneys involved in the litigation. In addition to the deponent (person being questioned), there will typically be attorneys for all parties, as well as a court reporter, who will transcribe all the questions and answers.

What Are the Purposes of a Deposition?

Depositions are used for two specific purposes:

  • To learn what a witness knows
  • To provide a record of that testimony to be used later, if necessary

In the American civil justice system, the principle of “open discovery” applies. That means that all parties are entitled to equal access to relevant evidence. A deposition allows all parties to learn exactly what a witness knows, saw or might potentially say at trial. If the witness says one thing at the deposition, but testifies differently at trial, the deposition can typically be used to bring his or her credibility into question.

Tips for a Successful Deposition

If you’ve never been deposed before, here are some things to remember:

  • It’s best to tell the truth, as it can come back to haunt you at trial
  • Your words are being recorded, but the court reporter cannot transcribe your physical movements. Answer yes or no, rather than nodding or shaking your head.
  • Listen carefully to the question that was asked and answer that specific question—In most instances, the shorter your answer, the better. Never volunteer information that is not related to the question.
  • Tell only what you know—don’t guess
  • Take a deep breath if you need to—Don’t be an adversarial witness. A skilled attorney can use that against you.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

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