During the initial stages of a lawsuit, including personal injury cases, the plaintiff and defendant have time to gather information and evidence before a trial begins. In this pre-trial process or discovery phase, witnesses may give depositions, which are verbal statements under oath.
Depositions and the Pre-Trial Process
All named parties in a lawsuit have the right to conduct a formal investigation, called discovery, to learn all of the facts of a case before trial. Each party gathers information during the discovery phase by various methods, such as subpoenas for documents, written interrogatories, and deposition hearings. Sometimes, the evidence gathered during discovery, including from depositions, may lead the opposing sides to agree on a settlement and avoid a trial.
Collecting and analyzing evidence pre-trial helps lawyers develop strategies for trying the case if it does proceed to court. The discovery process also keeps a trial running smoothly later on.
Depositions are a key step in the discovery process of a case. Each interview with a witness may create a clearer picture of the facts. These in-person interviews help determine what a witness, or deponent, knows and documents their testimony.
What Happens During a Deposition?
Depositions are usually held in an attorney’s office, but may currently be conducted using a secure video conferencing tool like Zoom. During a deposition, the attorneys will ask witnesses questions about details involved in the lawsuit. A court reporter will be present to record the interview and will create a transcript afterward. The session may also be video recorded.
The named parties in a lawsuit will usually have their lawyers present at a deposition. Attorneys can object to questions asked of their witnesses during the session, however, witnesses are generally still required to answer all questions. A judge will rule on objections when present. The court reporter notes objections on the record of the deposition.
A short deposition may last under an hour. Lengthy depositions could last days or more depending on the intricacies of the case and amount of evidence.
Depositions are given under oath, knowing that each testimony may be presented during the trial. False statements could have civil and criminal consequences. Lawyers will advise deponents to listen closely to all questions and answer accurately.
How an Experienced Lawyer Can Help
It is important to have an experienced attorney by your side during a deposition. They will let you know the details of each step of the process and what you should expect. An attorney will also help you prepare for a deposition and defend you with any necessary objections during questioning.
At Panter, Panter & Sampedro we have represented our family, friends, and neighbors when they need us most. Our clients are treated like family. Call Panter Panter & Sampedro to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation at (305) 662-6178.