With the explosive news that the attorney for Stormy Daniels, the “adult film actress,” just filed a motion to take the depositions of President Trump and his attorney, you might be wondering what they are.
(Latest update on President Trump’s deposition: Judge denies motion)
Without getting into politics here, it was almost exactly 20 years ago that the deposition of former President Clinton was released in the lawsuit filed by Paula Jones that lead to his impeachment.
What is a deposition?
It is an intense question and answer session taken under oath. The involved parties and people involved with a lawsuit are interrogated at length about facts and opinions related to the litigation.
Plaintiffs, defendants, and other parties and witnesses can be ordered to provide testimony. If a corporation is a defendant, it must designate a person with knowledge of facts.
Since our office specializes in car and truck collision cases, this post will concentrate on how they are used in personal injury cases.
Why take a deposition?
Just because there was a car crash and the police report blames one driver and a person is injured doesn’t mean the at-fault driver’s insurance company is going to be fair about making an offer of settlement.
Usually the opposite is true. The injured party must often file a lawsuit and prove his case to get paid his damages.
When does a deposition happen?
After a lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff’s attorney has the burden of proof of showing how his client has been injured and what his legal damages are. On the other hand, the defendant’s (and insurance company’s) lawyer must refute facts and arguments that are raised. It’s like a football game where one side has the ball and is trying to score while the other is trying to intercept the ball or limit a touchdown to a field goal.
Added to tools like requests for documents, admissions and disclosure and interrogatories, depositions allow the attorneys to carefully examine all facts and opinions that support or deny the evidence necessary to prevail before a judge and jury.
Depositions occur after initial questions and documents have been answered. Court scheduling orders and agreements between the opposing counsel control the timing.
In addition to building or defending a case, deposition testimony can be used during the trial to show that the witness is testifying differently than he did during his deposition. This is used to control his testimony and question his credibility.
Each attorney will also scrutinize the ability of the witness to testify and examine the appearance he makes. If the witness is not able to attend the trial, his deposition can be read or played to the jury so valuable evidence can be preserved.
Often when all facts are known, the parties can meet at a mediation and attempt to resolve their differences out of court. By that point, each side will better know the strengths and weaknesses of their cases and have a better estimate of what the outcome might be if a jury hears the case and reaches a verdict.
What is the deposition process?
The attorney issues a notice commanding a witness to appear in a law office. Usually the witness is also subpoenaed to bring document or evidence and is questioned about those items.
Depositions are not taken at the courthouse, so no judge is present. However the witness is sworn to tell the truth and is subject to the penalty of perjury.
A court reporter and usually a videographer record the questions and answers so they can be read or shown to the jury along with objections from the attorneys. Objections are not ruled on during the testimony but are later addressed by the judge during the trial.
How long does one last?
It depends, depending on the complexity of the case and the knowledge of the witness. In a car wreck case, the plaintiff normally is questioned for two or three hours and the at-fault driver for approximately 30 minutes to one hour.
The injured plaintiff will be grilled about how the crash, injuries, past and anticipated medical treatment, payment of medical bills, lost wages, job and lifestyle changes, and other relevant lines of inquiry.
His doctors will be asked about his injuries, medical treatment and diagnostic testing, bills, and other related medical issues. The at-fault driver is only examined about how the car accident happened.
What you should do if you have to give your deposition
If you already have a lawyer, he should meet with you, explain the process, and go over expected questions with you.
Depositions can win or lose lawsuits. Most people never testify in front of a jury in court so the deposition in a sense becomes the trial transcript and is carefully analyzed. For this reason, Mr. Berenson spends hours with his clients.and it is essential that his client gives the best possible testimony and makes the best possible impression on the insurance company lawyer and representatives.
More information for you is here: How To Give A Successful Deposition in Your Personal Injury Case.
If you need further information about the claims or lawsuit process, do not yet have a lawyer, and have been involved in a car wreck, please contact our office.
Mr. Berenson has almost four decades of experience filing lawsuits, taking depositions, and going to trial to make insurance companies pay his clients the compensation they deserve.