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After a lawsuit is filed, both sides need to find out the facts of the case are, and one way that you do that is taking depositions.
A deposition is when a witness is subpoenaed, or asked to come to a court reporter’s office or to a lawyer’s office, and the attorneys for both parties in the case are there. The plaintiff attorney is there and the defendant’s attorney is there. There’s a court reporter there who’ll be taking everything down on a stenographic machine. And the witness is sworn in to tell the truth, and just like in court, the witness is then asked questions about what they know about an accident or about an event. The first attorney can ask the questions of the witness, and then the next attorney is able to cross-examine the witness, again just as if you’re in court.
This is the way that the facts are discovered in a case and is really what leads to settlement of many cases, because before you ever get to court if you take depositions of the witnesses, you find out what they’re all going to say, and then that way there really aren’t any surprises in court.
If you do have to go to trial, the deposition of a witness can be used at trial if that witness is not available to come and testify. Or if at trial the witness testifies in a way that’s different than the deposition, then the deposition testimony can be used to show that the witness is testifying in a contrary way at the time of trial.
Depositions are a very important part of working up a case in preparation for either settlement or trial.
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