Below are some example deposition transcripts from most of our law firm’s tort cases.
- Example trial transcripts
- Videotaped depositions in Miller & Zois accident and medical malpractice cases
Deposition Example Transcripts Car Accident
- 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
- Defendant Doctor’s Deposition
- Defendant Doctor #2 ($10 million verdict)
- Defendant Doctor #3 ($2.5 million verdict case: doctor failed to notice signs of patient’s internal bleeding that led to his death)
- Defendant Doctor #4 ($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
- Defense Expert on Damages (leg amputation costs)
Deposition Notices and Motion to Quash
- Plaintiff’s 30(B)(6) Deposition Notice
- Plaintiff’s Notice of Deposition Duces Tecum
- Motion to Quash Deposition
Our Thoughts on Successful Depositions
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 case’s value.
The insurance company’s computer cannot evaluate the character and sincerity of the plaintiff, which is a huge factor in the claim’s settlement value. The deposition is the only chance to find out what face 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 claim’s value. And, sure, we have had cases pretty much bomb in deposition, too, no doubt, with revelations no one saw coming (that our attorneys did not include on this page).
What to Expect in a Legal Deposition
The dictionary definition of a deposition is a formal statement- usually through oral questions and answers- 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 for the production of documents. In this case, the custodian of records is required by law to either produce documents to the requesting attorney or appear for deposition.
The legal deposition process begins with a notice that sets forth the pretrial testimony’s time and place (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 can only be required to give a deposition if 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 under Maryland law. 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!
Your affirmations 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) in a personal injury claim. Victims must also be aware of the specific damages they claim at trial. Most insurance companies also depose the plaintiff in any remotely severe 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 on the jury? Is this the kind of person a jury would believe is entitled to significant compensation for their injuries?
How You Come Across Matters
If the 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.
Conversely, if she is good, honest, and sympathetic, a larger settlement amount becomes much easier to sell to the insurance company, and the chances of a reasonable payout escalate.
Victims read this paragraph and panic, asking themselves how they will make a good impression in this formal situation, particularly when nervous. How can the defense lawyer – and 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 Maryland juries get it right in most tort cases. The jurors see past how nervous the client is and all the distractions and 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 discover your version of the facts, your injuries, how they have impacted you, and how good a witness you will be. You want that letter back to the adjuster to say this person will be compelling to a jury at trial.
Deposition Is Not Your Chance to Tell Your Whole Story
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 seeks to get your story and 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 possible while completing the answer. 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.
So, what is the goal of your deposition? One way to look at it is to give the shortest true answer as you can to every question. Yes, sometimes that short answer needs additional context. But in most cases, less is more.
Being Nervous Is Normal
Also worth mentioning for victims giving deposition testimony is that many lawyers in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits think you should hide that you are nervous when testifying. Our attorneys push back on this advice. Instead, we tell our clients just to relax and not worry about it. Juries are careful and smart consumers when paying for pain and suffering. They want sincerity.
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 – someone they can relate to who has suffered 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 will 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 that the law makes sense and that 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 litigants to “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 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 critical witness. You want to experience the witness’s demeanor firsthand to predict how the witness will present at trial. You also want to verify that the witness is not being coached or influenced while giving testimony.
Logistically, staying on the same page when referring to documents in any document-intensive case is also challenging.
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 devise 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 the production of documents and subpoena whatever it is that you need.
Make sure you talk to those experts before deposing the defendant if it is a malpractice case or one involving expert testimony germane to the defendant’s deposition. Know the science inside and out.
The take-home message here is that this question has no set answer. Hopefully, this discussion helps you spot the issues to help you determine the timing that works best for your case.
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 doing this, we sometimes ask whether our desired outcome is a fair answer.
But you cross the line when 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 more intelligent than most lawyers realize and usually see overly-coached testimony from a mile away.
Also, make sure your client is prepared for objections. During the witness preparation session, inform your client that they should stop speaking and listen attentively if there is an objection. They will still need to answer the question, but they should be aware that there won’t be a judge present to rule on the objection. We assume people know this. They usually don’t.
Related Links and Information
- 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 during the witnesses’ deposition.
- More Deposition Advice/Overview
- Maryland Rule 2-412 – the central rule governing depositions
- Good deposition outline – focus just on the outline and ignore the part about when you should make objections)
- Some “What to Say” Advice