In a personal injury case, witnesses can give testimony in court, but they can also supply a deposition. But what is a deposition, what does it entail, and how does it work in a lawsuit?
Discover more details and information about depositions and how they work in the state of Georgia by reading the article below.
In a lawsuit, all involved parties have the right to conduct discovery, or a formal investigation, to discover more about the case. This information is available before the trial so that each party can use the facts and potential evidence to plan their strategies and avoid trial delays once it begins.
Sometimes, what a party learns during the discovery process might help the opposing side settle without a trial.
The discovery process involves researching three different factors:
- Subpoenas (for applicable documents)
- Interrogatories (written questions)
- Depositions (a witness’s oral statement before trial, under oath)
Each case’s unique facts and circumstances determine whether a deposition is required. Personal injury cases that involve only legal issues—not factual matters—do not require depositions as the witness testimony and other associated evidence is not applicable.
However, in many lawsuits, depositions have a critical part to play by filling in the events’ blanks in question.
Unlike a document’s recorded information or the answers attorneys have from interrogatories, a deposition is from a human witness answering questions about the case.
Depositions have two purposes:
- To learn about what the witness knows
- To preserve that witness’s testimony.
All parties should know the facts before the trial so that no one has any surprises when the witness takes the stand. At the start of a trial, all parties should precisely know who the witnesses are and their testimony.
Depositions provide an opportunity to understand the case more and not just try to get an advantageous testimony. It is also an opportunity for all parties to learn their case’s vulnerable points and then prepare methods to avoid or refute them during the trial.
Suppose a witness’s version of events would cause detriment to your case at trial. You need to know this before the trial as you do not want to be taken unawares by the witness’s damaging testimony when they take the stand.
How Depositions Work
Depositions take place in attorneys’ offices, not in courtrooms. An attorney will ask the witness, also known as a deponent, a list of questions regarding the facts and events associated with the lawsuit. A court reporter records the entire deposition word-for-word. Throughout the session, the reporter is present and provides the transcript later.
Attorneys can also have the deposition videotaped if the deponent is too sick for trial or if they will be unavailable for trial.
All parties can go to the deposition, including the deponent’s attorney, albeit with a reduced role than they would have in a courtroom.
Judges will not attend depositions unless it is a particular case that requires an immediate ruling.
Lawyers for the witness or lawsuit parties may object to some inquires. Still, the witness must answer all appropriate questions despite objections (which get ruled on later due to a judge’s absence).
Depending on the witness’s involvement in the case, the length of depositions can vary. Each deposition is significant, and all parties need to take each testimony seriously.
Attorneys will ask questions carefully, requiring a witness to answer them precisely and truthfully as they are under oath. While under oath, any false statements made can result in both civil and criminal consequences.
The witness’s attendance at a deposition may require a subpoena.
During the deposition, a party or deponent can petition the court to terminate the deposition or limit its scope. A court will allow this if the petitioning party can show that “the examination is being conducted in bad faith or in such a manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or party.” (O.C.G.A. § 9-11-30(c)(d).)
Following the deposition, the witness can, upon request, review the deposition transcript or recording to look for accuracy and make any necessary changes.
Do you need to provide a deposition for a personal injury case? Do you need a Douglasville personal injury attorney to help you refute a testimony for your injury case? Then contact the Law Office of John B. Jackson. You will feel relieved that you did.