A deposition involves the taking of sworn, out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that may be reduced to a written transcript for later use in court or for discovery purposes.
In a lawsuit, all named parties have the right to conduct discovery, a formal investigation, to find out more about the case. Pre-trial access to this information allows the parties to use facts and potential evidence to better define their strategies and avoid delays once the trial begins. In some cases, what is learned during discovery might even help the opposing sides come to a settlement without having to go to trial at all. The personal injury team at Burger Law is well-versed in depositions and their benefit to negotiations.
Unlike the information recorded in documents or the attorneys’ answers to interrogatories, a deposition involves a living, breathing witness being asked questions about the case under oath. The deposition has two purposes:
- To find out what the witness knows
- Preserve that witness’ testimony
You must give a deposition when ordered to do so, via a subpoena, or risk a contempt charge. Unless the court orders otherwise, any deposition transcript filed by a party is a public record and must be available for public inspection to the same extent as any other paper in the case file. You do, however, have the right to refuse to answer any question regarding a person’s health, sexuality or religious beliefs – including your own.