Most of the lawsuits I file on behalf of accident and injury victims involve depositions. Since most people know little or nothing about depositions, this article is designed to give you a basic understanding.

What Is A Deposition?

Depositions are part of the pretrial “discovery” phase of a lawsuit where each side can learn – discover – information about an opponent’s case. Other common discovery methods are written questions (called Interrogatories) and requests for production of documents.

More specifically, depositions are face-to-face question-and-answer session. They usually occur in the office of the lawyer who scheduled the deposition or in some public meeting room. They may also be remote and conducted over Zoom or a similar service.

Parties to legal cases can require other parties, or non-party witnesses, to appear for questioning. And, they can require “deponents” — the name given to deposition witnesses — to produce documents.

Who Is Present?

Normally, the parties to the case, their lawyers and a court reporter are present. So is the witness, if a non-party. If the deposition is being videotaped, a videographer is also present.

Deposition Procedures

Deposition witnesses testify under the penalties of perjury.

In Maryland, deposition questioners have wide latitude. They can seek not only relevant information that tends to prove or disprove some issue in the case but they can also get information that “could possibly lead” to relevant and admissible evidence.

The lawyer for the witness can object to improper questions. Normally, these objections are noted on the record of the deposition and can be decided later by a judge. However, occasionally, a deposition is suspended to get an immediate ruling from a judge on an objection.

What Is The “Result” Of A Deposition?

The result of a deposition is a typed book of questions and answers. That is, a verbatim transcript of all that was said at the deposition. And, in some cases, there is a videotape of the session.

What’s the point? How can depositions be used in the case?

Parties can read favorable parts of an opponent’s deposition into evidence at trial. In addition, a witness who testifies in court inconsistently with earlier deposition testimony can be confronted with the prior inconsistent deposition testimony. Prior inconsistent statements can be considered in assessing a witness’ credibility.

Depositions are a critical part of the litigation process. Many cases have been won or lost at depositions.

To learn more details, read this article about depositions. You can also read my tips for deposition witnesses. And, if you are interested, you can read this article about the typical deposition questions in a car accident case.

If you have any questions about depositions in Maryland accident and injury cases, contact us.

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