Lawyers learn things about a lawsuit in a variety of ways. One of these is methods is by taking a deposition, which is a pre-trial, out-of-court process in which a witness provides testimony.
Many lawyers believe that depositions are the most important discovery tool they have. A deposition allows the lawyer the opportunity to observe such things as candor, evasiveness and demeanor of the opposing party. It is a unique opportunity to assess to what extent this person is “marketable” to a jury. Furthermore, unlike interrogatories, a deposition allows the lawyer to follow up on responses the witness makes.
Depositions can narrow the issues
In addition to assessing the opposing party, a deposition allows the attorney to narrow or even eliminate issues in the case. For example, in a car accident lawsuit the lawyer may use a sequence of questions like this:
- Can we agree that you were driving the white Chevy van at the time of the collision?
- Isn’t it true that you were able to observe the plaintiff wearing her seatbelt immediately after the collision?
- There is no dispute, is there, that you had a stop sign where you entered the intersection?
- Didn’t you tell the police officer that you were changing the disc in the CD player just prior to the collision?
- In fact, isn’t the road narrow and windy in the area where you say that you saw the collision take place?
- You only glanced up prior to the collision? That was for a split second, correct?
Narrowing the issues not only relieves anxiety but also allows the trial to proceed in a less cumbersome manner. Furthermore, it makes it easier for the insurance carrier to evaluate the case.
Depositions can get facts “locked in”
Depositions allow the lawyer to know what witnesses are going to say, how they are going to say it, and what basis they have for what they are going to say. Ascertaining this information affords the lawyer the opportunity to test the evidence to determine how to counter it.
With a deposition your personal injury lawyer can commit a witness to a position, so that the witness is not free to zig and zag at the time of trial. The defendant must commit to a specific set of facts in the deposition.