What is a Deposition?
Depositions are one of the basics of injury litigation. A deposition is basically a series of questions an attorney asks the other side’s witnesses to answer under oath. The question and answer are transcribed by a court reporter. The questions can be wide-ranging and cover all sorts of ground because the only limitation is that they must be “reasonably calculated” to lead evidence that is admissible at trial. Your answers count as sworn testimony just like you are in a courtroom.
Depositions commonly take place at an attorney’s office or at a court reporter’s office. Even though the witness is sworn to tell the truth there will be no judge present for the deposition.
The fact that no judge is there means that you even have to answer questions to which your own attorney objects. But, before the jury would hear that testimony at trial, the judge would have to overrule the objection raised.
What is a Video Deposition?
Just like any other deposition a video deposition is transcribed word for word by a court reporter. Everything is the exact same as at a deposition that is not videotaped. Except, there is a video operator there and you, or the witness on the other side, get video and audio recorded while answering questions.
The big difference is that in a non-video deposition a person’s demeanor and mannerisms, their non-verbal communications to use another term, are not available for the jury. In contrast, in a video deposition everything the witnesses does is recorded for the jury to see. This can include hand gestures, facial expressions, physical tics and the like. Importantly is can also give clues to whether the witness is telling the truth or not.
Both the injured plaintiff and the defendant driver are often deposed using a video deposition in car crash cases. Many plaintiffs’ lawyers agree that the defendant driver is often far less well prepared for the process of questioning at the deposition and their honest selves will shine through.
Because the video testimony of an opposing party can be shown to the jury, getting that honest snapshot of the defendant can really help “make your case.
Capturing the true defendant is a primary reason for a personal injury attorney to choose to take a video deposition. For the defense attorney, a video deposition can help with the basic reasons that they are taking your deposition in the first place. Those reasons are:
- Locking in your story. The other lawyer wants to be sure that they know what you will day at trial. So they want to lock down your story and eliminate wiggle room, It is harder to lie and conceal when in video camera particularly in response to follow-up questions
- Evaluating your answers and effectiveness as a witness at trial. The lawyer (and the insurance company and adjuster with which the lawyer is working) want to know “how you will be” as a witness at trial. Answers to questions such as will the jury like you? Do you come across as honest?
In the end, a video deposition is a more powerful tool to use against the opposing party than a mere transcript. You need to be sure your lawyer spends the time to prepare you to shine for your deposition in your injury case.
Thanks to our friend and blog author, Kurt Holzer of Holzer Edwards Chartered, for his insight into the importance of video depositions in a car accident case.