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Deposition FAQs

What is an examination before trial?

An examination before trial is also called an EBT or a deposition. It is a legal proceeding where both sides answer questions about their lawsuit under oath in front of a court reporter and lawyers. A transcript of the proceeding is made including all the questions and answers.  All sides to the lawsuit are represented by attorneys but no judge or jury is present. Some of the questions and answers may become evidence in your case.

Why are examination before trials important?

Examinations before trial are important because it is an opportunity to devalue or lose your case. Lots of times a lawsuit is won or lost by what the parties say at a deposition. Careful and meticulous preparations are mandatory. Exactly how your accident happened and what your injuries, treatment and complaints are will be explored in excruciating detail during the proceeding. A good lawyer will carefully prepare you and guide you through the deposition.

What is the main purpose of the deposition?

The main purpose of a deposition is to evaluate the witness, explore the claims and defenses to the lawsuit and obtain missing information.

Who is present at a deposition?

All parties to a deposition have a legal right to be present at all depositions. That includes the plaintiff, defendant, plaintiff’’s lawyer, defendant’s lawyer, and a court reporter or videographer.

What happens at an examination before trial?

Depositions or examinations before trial  are usually held at the courthouse or in an attorney’s office.  Each party to the lawsuit is represented by an attorney and court reporters are there to record the proceedings. All  depositions are taken under oath with the penalties of perjury for lying. Questions are asked by the opposing party’s lawyer and the witness provides answers. A transcript is produced by the court reporter of every question and answer and everything said at the examination before trial. Watch what you say because everything is recorded by the court reporter.

Can a settlement be made at a deposition?

Settlement offers are sometimes made at a deposition. They are rare. More often offers of settlement are made after all discovery is finished. Settlements can be made at any time even after a jury verdict. Although one is rarely made if you lose a jury verdict. Remember that settlements are the result of negotiation between the parties. Your lawyer’s advice of when to settle and for how much money is invaluable.                 

How long does it take to get a settlement after deposition?

Cases rarely settle after just the deposition of the plaintiff.  Once the deposition is finished of all parties to the lawsuit and all non-parties to the lawsuit  the case is then evaluated by all attorneys for additional needed discovery and the relative strengths of each party’s position. There are too many variable factors to put an exact time to receive a settlement offer following  depositions. Every attorney involved in a lawsuit keeps an eye on a possible settlement and works toward that goal from the first day of their involvement in the lawsuit.

Does the deposition mean my case is going to trial?

No, it does not. Attending a deposition is one step in the long process of going to trial. Most personal injury cases do not go to trial. They tend to settle before that.

What happens after an examination before trial?

After your examination before trial or deposition is completed additional discovery generally takes place. That can include a physical examination by one or more physicians hired by the defense in a personal injury case. Additional  medical records of treatment are collected and reviewed. Your case is put on the Court calendar because all discovery has been completed and you wait for your time to go to trial. During that wait the attorneys often will meet with the Court in an attempt to resolve the case. If that is not possible, the case will go to trial before a judge and a jury.