What is a Deposition in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A deposition in a wrongful death lawsuit is a proceeding where attorneys may ask questions of a witness in the presence of a court reporter. These depositions are part of a wrongful death lawsuit, but they are not conducted before a judge. While the rules in these hearings are slightly different compared to a trial, this testimony is often used in formal court proceedings. Because of this, the outcome of deposition could have a dramatic impact on a wrongful death claim.
It is vital that you never go into a deposition unprepared. You can rest assured that the attorney on the other side of the case will be well-prepared and ready to use anything you say against you. To protect your claim and your family’s best shot at justice for your lost loved one, seek guidance from experienced Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers immediately.
The purpose of a deposition
A deposition is one aspect of a lawsuit known as discovery. The discovery process is intended to provide both sides with an understanding of the evidence the other side intends to rely on. By sharing this information, it can ensure that there are no unfair surprises and facilitate a lawsuit proceeding in a timely manner.
A deposition gives the parties to a lawsuit the opportunity to obtain sworn testimony outside of a courtroom setting. These interviews do not take place before a judge, but the testimony collected could ultimately be used in some hearings or trials. Both sides have the opportunity to depose witnesses as well as the parties in a case. This means while the other side can depose you, your wrongful death lawyers could seek to depose the defendants.
There are many reasons why an attorney would want to depose the other party. First and foremost, this gives the attorney a preview of the other side’s testimony. By questioning them well ahead of the trial, it can help the attorney develop a trial strategy. Thorough questioning could also lead to the uncovering of helpful evidence the attorney might not have been previously aware of.
By creating a record of a witness’ testimony, an attorney can also set the stage for cross-examination at trial. When a witness testifies at trial differently compared to their deposition, an attorney can highlight those differences in an effort to discredit the witness. Some of the other reasons for setting a deposition include:
- Testing out defense strategies
- Obtaining copies of official records
- Asking the party to admit certain facts
- Preserving testimony in case the witness cannot appear at trial
How depositions work
Depositions are not formal court hearings, and they do not occur in the presence of a judge or jury. That does mean they are informal or unstructured, however. These proceedings follow a familiar structure and have strict evidence rules. Your wrongful death attorney can explain in detail how these proceedings work prior to your deposition. Some of the common questions involve:
- The specifics of your claim
- The timeline of events
- The basis for your request for compensation
- Your background
- Your work history
- Whether you have any relevant evidence not yet disclosed.
In addition to questions, you could also be required to bring certain documents to a deposition to share with the other side. The attorneys may also bring their own documents, which they can ask you to review and answer questions about.
Let an attorney guide you through deposition preparations
Never go into a deposition on your own. The answers you give could be held against you at trial, and it is often impossible to undo the damage from a bad answer. The attorneys of Ellis Injury Law have extensive experience preparing clients for depositions. We can work with you to not only help you understand what to expect but also take you through simulated questions. Call right away to schedule your initial consultation with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.