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What is a Deposition?

Witness testifying in court

Our trial attorneys at Heidari Law want to make sure that our clients are educated through every step of litigation. We always strive to make sure our clients are well informed about the next stages of their case, in order for them to make informed decisions. There are several steps that take place throughout the course of litigation. One of the most common questions our California personal injury attorneys receive is explaining the process of taking a deposition.

A deposition includes oral statements made by a witness under oath before trial. With the covid-19 pandemic making the majority of trials virtual, many depositions now take place through virtual meetings such as Zoom. Any party could take a deposition, and the purpose of a deposition is to determine what that witness knows.

For example, witnesses could be deposed so the plaintiff could determine what the witness saw during the accident. During this time, the opponent’s counsel will be available at the deposition to ask further questions. A deposition allows attorneys from both sides to ask witnesses questions. If one attorney asks a question that is beyond the scope of what a deposition should include, then the other attorney could object against it. Depositions allow both sides to determine what each witness could potentially talk about to better prepare for trial. This occurs so witnesses do not surprise anybody with new facts at trial.

During the course of litigation, both parties take part in discovery. During this discovery process, each party works to gather more information about the case, whether it is physical or testimonial evidence. A deposition occurs during the discovery process.

What occurs during a deposition?

Depositions usually start by introducing the court reporter. The court reporter, also referred to as the stenographer, is present during the deposition and is responsible for documenting the questions of the attorneys and the witnesses’ responses. The deposition starts off with one of the attorneys explaining to the witness that they are under oath and should be able to give truthful answers. No witness should be compelled to make any guesses, they could only make estimates regarding information they have personal knowledge of. For more information on what occurs during the deposition, contact our litigation personal injury attorneys today to determine if you have a solid case against the other party.

What happens after deposition?

During the deposition, the court reporter creates a transcript. After the deposition, the court reporter sends the transcript to all parties. It is important to note that the longer the deposition, the more time a court reporter may need to produce the transcript. All parties will review the transcript, and the transcript becomes part of the discovery process. This means that during trial, any of the attorneys could ask the witness questions regarding the information that they have mentioned during the deposition.

Could I be deposed more than once?

In California, witnesses are usually deposed only one time. If a witness needs to be deposed another time because the attorneys believe that they need to ask the witness more questions, then they must seek permission from the court.

Does an attorney have to take a deposition?

Depositions are not mandatory. But many experienced personal injury attorneys take depositions prior to trial in order to prevent any surprises from any witnesses. Based on the depositions, the attorneys could then form their questions and arguments in court. Depositions also allow attorneys to impeach a witness if they lie under oath. For example, if the witness testified that the light was red during the deposition, but then said the light was yellow in trial, the attorney could then impeach the witness and raise suspicion that will help the jury make a determination on the witness’s credibility when the Plaintiff has the burden of proof.

Could the deposition be recorded?

Nowadays, especially with many depositions being virtual, depositions are more likely to be recorded. This assists the attorney in determining what type of questions to ask the witness during trial. There is no law that prohibits depositions from being videotaped. That is why it is important that the witnesses maintain a constant professional mannerism during the deposition.

Who is present during the deposition?

During the deposition, the parties that will most likely be present include attorneys from both sides, the court reporter, an interpreter (if necessary), and the witness.

How much does a deposition cost?

Taking the deposition of a witness varies depending on the type of witness and the length of the deposition. For example, court reporters are paid to transcribe the entire deposition, then send the copies of the transcripts after the transcript has been finalized. Usually, the parties that have paid for the transcript are the ones that will receive the transcript and a certified copy.

Female witness giving testimony on stand

What if a witness lies during a deposition?

Before a deposition begins, a witness is required to take an oath in which they promise not to lie. If a witness were to lie during the deposition, they could be prosecuted for perjury. They could also lose their credibility during trial.

Do I have to answer every question during a deposition?

A witness must answer all questions attorneys ask them during a deposition. It is the responsibility of your attorney to object to any questions that may seem improper, privileged, or irrelevant. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have decades of experience making sure that witnesses do not reveal any private information. If the witness simply does not remember the answer to the question, the witness is advised to say they don’t remember rather than guess.

What could I bring to a deposition?

It is advised that you only take your belongings to a deposition. Usually, attorneys do not allow any notes or diaries during a deposition unless the attorneys have agreed to beforehand.

Depositions could sometimes seem a bit tedious and could wear away witnesses. That is why it is important to have an experienced trial attorney that has years of practice dealing with personal injury cases to pursue your personal injury claims. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing various personal injury claims throughout the states of California and Nevada. We have litigated thousands of claims and have gone through thousands of depositions. Our experienced personal injury attorneys understand that it may be a bit difficult for you to go through a deposition. Sometimes it could seem very stressful. Our attorneys are here to help you with every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation to determine the merits of your personal injury claim.

It is important to note that there are various different types of rules depending on the court that the case is being brought to. For example, the Los Angeles County Superior Court has different rules regarding depositions when compared to the Riverside Superior Court. Our attorneys have experience litigating claims in every major city in California and Nevada, and we represent clients from every major city including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, San Bernardino, Garden Grove, Beverly Hills, etc.

Have more questions about depositions? Talk to our experienced personal injury attorneys today. Our skilled litigation attorneys will help guide you through the legal process and preserve your rights and interests.

***Disclaimer: This webpage has been crafted by Heidari Law Group solely for educational purposes. The content of this article aims to offer a broad comprehension of the law and does not constitute specific legal advice. By accessing this site and perusing its contents, no attorney-client relationship is established between you and any member of Heidari Law. Additionally, it’s important to note that the legal landscape is subject to continuous change, rendering some of the information provided herein potentially outdated or no longer applicable.

Sam Heidari

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