Example Deposition Transcripts
Below are some example deposition transcripts from most of the different types of tort cases our law firm handles.
- Defendant Driver #1 (wrongful death pedestrian accident)
- Defendant Driver #2
- Defendant Driver #3
- Defendant's Medical Doctor
- Police Officer
- Insurance Adjuster in Uninsured Motorist Case
- Questions you can bet a defense lawyer is going to ask you at deposition
If you are looking for a complete outline for a motor tort deposition, you can find one here.Truck Crash
- Videotaped Deposition of Physician's Assistant ($5.2 million verdict: ER misdiagnosis)
- Defendant Doctor ($2.5 million verdict case: doctor failed to notice signs of patient's internal bleeding that lead to his death)
- Another Defendant Doctor ($5.5 million verdict: surgical error during cardiac surgery)
- Defense Expert (birth injury)
- Defense Expert #2
- Video of ER Expert's Deposition
- Plaintiff's Medical Doctor Expert in Medical Malpractice Case
- Plaintiff's 30(B)(6) Deposition Notice
- Plaintiff's Notice of Deposition Duces Tecum
- Motion to Quash Deposition
Depositions matter. They matter if you intend to settle the case, and they certainly matter if the claim goes to trial. For settlement, the deposition is the most important tool insurance companies use to evaluate the value of the case.
The insurance company's computer cannot evaluate the character and sincerity of the Plaintiff, which is a huge factor in the settlement value of the claim. The deposition is the only chance to find out what face that will be placed on these injuries they have read about in the medical records.
Insurance companies take into account how the plaintiff performs in evaluating cases. We have had cases where good, well-prepared plaintiffs dramatically increase the value of the claim. (And, sure, we have had cases pretty much bomb in deposition too, no doubt, with revelations no one saw coming.)When to Take the Key Depositions
One school of thought is to note depositions when you serve the Complaint. It certainly sends the message that you are taking the case seriously and are ready to push forward.
Noting depositions early also gets you to the defendant quickly before they have time to let the case marinate and come up with a convoluted defense. It might be a defense that is not based on the facts. But it just might work with a jury.
But here is the problem: you might not be ready for an immediate deposition. You learn so much about a case as it proceeds. You might end up with scores of critical questions that you can't pose easily as interrogatories that you never get a chance to ask.
You can also split the difference. Prepare a request for production of documents and subpoena whatever it is that you need. Make sure if it is a malpractice case or one involving expert testimony germane to the defendant's deposition that you talk to those experts before deposing the defendant. Know the science inside and out.
The take-home message here is that there is no set answer to this question. Hopefully, this discussion helps you spot the issues to help you determine the timing that works best for your case.What to Expect in a Legal Deposition
The dictionary definition of a deposition is a formal statement -- usually through oral questions and answers -- that are recorded for use in court. This description is mostly accurate.
A deposition in Maryland can be taken any time after a lawsuit is filed and can even be taken before filing suit in some extraordinary circumstances, usually where the preservation of evidence is necessary. Depositions of third parties can also be taken but only for the production of documents. In this case, the custodian of records is required to either produce documents to the requesting attorney or appear for deposition.
The legal deposition process begins with a notice that sets forth the time and place of the pretrial testimony (this is usually done by consent). A party to the case in Maryland may be noticed for a location in the county where the lawsuit is pending, whether or not the party is a resident of that county. See Maryland Rule 2-413.
With individuals or companies who are not parties, a party may be deposed in the county in which she works or lives. It becomes even more complicated, of course, if the non-party is not living or working in Maryland in which case she cannot be required to give a deposition unless served with a subpoena while in Maryland.
A notice of oral deposition must be mailed or delivered at least ten days before the declaration is taken to be effective in Maryland. If a notice also requires documents or other records to be produced at the deposition, the time is extended from 10 to 30 days. If a party opposes the notice, they must file a motion for a protective order to "quash" the deposition. You can't just fail to show up!
The affirmations you give are under the same oath as the one taken at trial. A court reporter is present to take down all of the questions and answers, and a transcript will be produced. (See above deposition examples.) The deponent (person being asked the questions by the opposing side's attorney) will be “stuck” with all of the answers given to these inquiries.
So plaintiffs must be good and honest historians of their medical treatment (both past and present). Victims also need to be clear on the specific damages that they are claiming at trial. Most insurance companies also depose the Plaintiff in any remotely serious vehicle collision case where the Plaintiff alleges she was hurt in the crash.
Reviewing the deposition examples above will help you better understand the type of personal injury deposition questions you can expect at your deposition.What People Being Deposed Need to Know
A deposition presents a real opportunity to define who the Plaintiff is. Is the injury victim an honest, likable person who would make a good impression in front of the jury? Is this the kind of person a jury would believe is entitled to significant compensation for their injuries?
If the accident victim does not come across as honest and sympathetic at her deposition, it is improbable that a jury will significantly compensate her for the harms she has suffered. (The deposition examples we provide do not provide much of a lens to these important questions because the answers do not show up in a deposition transcripts.)
Conversely, if she is good, honest, and sympathetic, the value of the lawsuit often becomes a lot easier to sell to the insurance company, and the chances of a reasonable offer escalate.
Victims read this paragraph and panic, asking themselves how they will make a good impression in this formal situation particularly when they are so nervous? How can the defense lawyer - and later perhaps a jury - figure out who you are and what you have been through in such a short time? Believe it or not, the defense lawyers typically do and the juries almost always do.
Our experience has been that in the vast majority of tort cases, Maryland juries get it right. The jurors see past how nervous the client is and all of the distractions, and they get a decent sense of what happened. This is great news for victims who are genuinely hurt have suffered real injuries and are honest and direct about what they have endured.
The insurance company wants to find out your version of the facts, what your injuries are and how they have impacted you, and how good a witness you will be. You want that letter back to the adjuster to say this is a person who will be compelling to a jury at trial.
You have to bear in mind during your deposition that while you want the insurance company to understand what you have been through as a result of your loss, this is not the time to try to get all of your thoughts out. Opposing counsel is both seeking to get your story but also to elicit statements that can be used against you at trial.
Accordingly, you must resist the temptation that every victim has to tell their entire story and vindicate themselves and instead merely answer the questions asked. You should answer as briefly as you can while still making the answer complete. You also should not volunteer information, simply stick to the question posed.
As simple as it sounds, while remembering defense counsel is not on the injury victim's side, it is also important to be courteous. Besides your mother's motto that it is always a good time for good manners, it is also important because the insurance company's lawyer knows that juries award compensation to injury victims who are real people who are hurt, not angry.
Also worth mentioning for victims giving deposition testimony is that many lawyers will tell you to fight letting it show that you are nervous when testifying. We push back on this advice. Instead, our attorneys tell our clients to just relax and not worry about it. Juries are careful and smart consumers when it comes to paying for pain and suffering.
Often, juries - and sometimes even insurance companies - are willing to pay significant compensation to individuals who have suffered a significant car wreck. But consumers want to get something for their money - a person they can relate to who has suffered from an accident. Being a real person advances this ball and real people are often nervous in a legal setting.
One more thing to keep in mind. Almost invariably, people asked to speak in a formal, legal setting about themselves are going to be nervous. Judges and juries understand this. You are expected to be nervous, particularly in the beginning. So relax, and do not worry about it, the truth is what will matter, not whether you are nervous. Despite what you have heard, trust in the fact that the law makes sense and juries usually make the right call.Can I Give My Deposition Over the Phone?
Many people ask if they can just give their depositions by phone. Most state rules of civil procedure and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow for depositions by telephone. Rule 30(7) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows that litigants "may stipulate in writing or the court may upon motion order that a deposition be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means." Certainly, COVID-19 made telephone and Zoom depositions much more commonplace.
Maryland Rule 2-418 uses this identical language. Practically, the parties are unlikely to both agree to a telephone deposition and Maryland courts are reluctant to require a deposition be taken by phone absent compelling circumstances. Our attorneys rarely agree to take a deposition over the phone, particularly of a defendant or key witness. You want to be able to experience the demeanor of the witness firsthand so you can predict how the witness will present at trial. You also want to verify that the witness is not being coached or otherwise influenced while giving testimony. Logistically, it is also hard in any document-intensive case to stay on the same page when it comes to referring to documents.Preparing a Client to Testify
Trial lawyers walk a tightrope between preparing a witness for trial and coaching a witness to say what counsel wants the witness to say. It is critical to toe the line on this delicate balance.
You have to make sure your witnesses are ready for trial. But if you are telling the witnesses exactly how a question must be answered or getting the witness to shade the truth, you are engaging in unethical behavior that might incur the wrath of the trial judge, or worse, the jury.
When we prepare our clients for a legal deposition, we go over every crucial bit of testimony we expect them to give. When we do this, we sometimes ask whether our desired version of the outcome is a fair answer. But you cross over the line when you are telling the witness how the question should be answered. Feeding responses to a witness is not only a miscarriage of justice. It is a lousy trial strategy that almost always backfires. Juries are smarter than most lawyers realize, and they usually see overly coached testimony from a mile away.
- Sample Written Tort Discovery
- Preparing Your Client (information for preparing their client for a deposition in an accident case)
- Can Lawyers and Clients Talk During a Deposition? Lawyers have conflicting opinions. Rarely is any legal authority cited when the issue arises)
- Maryland Rule 2-412 - the central rule
- Good deposition outline (ignore the part about when you should make objections)
- Some "What to Say" Advice