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Legal Blog

Who Can Be Deposed in a Wrongful Death Suit?

Losing a loved one in an accident is always tragic, but it may come as some consolation to know that you may have rights as a surviving family member. Texas allows a legal action called a wrongful death suit, in which you can recover monetary damages for the losses you sustain as a result of your relative’s passing. Because these tragedies are often caused by the careless actions of another person or entity, the concepts of negligence apply. You need to prove that the responsible party failed to exercise reasonable care, which led to the fatal accident.

As such, solid, credible evidence is crucial. One strategy for obtaining the necessary proof is through depositions of parties and witnesses who have knowledge regarding the circumstances. A wrongful death lawyer can provide specific information, but some answers to common questions about depositing may be informative.

To discuss how a veteran Houston attorney with The Krist Law Firm can help if you lost a loved one in an accident caused by negligence, contact us at (281) 283-8500 or online to schedule a free consultation.

What is a Deposition?

Discovery is the process through which parties to litigation seek documents, statements, evidence, and other information relevant to claims and defenses alleged in the lawsuit. A deposition is one type of discovery method. The proceeding is basically an interview session, during which one party’s attorney will pose questions to the individual being deposed.

The deposition doesn’t take place in a courtroom. Instead, it’s usually held at the law offices of the lawyer who requested that the deponent appear. The goal is to obtain details that set the stage for trial and narrow the issues for the case.

Why are Depositions Necessary?

Like other forms of discovery, a deposition is important for fact-finding purposes. Because wrongful death claims are usually based upon negligence, a deposition can produce evidence related to fault and contributing factors in fatal accidents.

Some of the most common wrongful death claims involve:

  • Car, truck, and motorcycle crashes;
  • Bicycle and pedestrian accidents;
  • Slips, trips, falls, and other incidents that occur due to dangerous conditions on property;
  • Medical malpractice;
  • Dangerous, defective products

Who Can be Deposed in a Wrongful Death Claim?

According to the civil procedure rules in state and federal courts, a party to a lawsuit must appear for a deposition if requested by any other parties to the litigation. However, parties can also depose witnesses and other individuals who have factual knowledge about any issue that’s relevant to the case. In a wrongful death lawsuit, potential deponents may be:

  • A plaintiff who filed the case;
  • The defendant against whom the lawsuit was filed;
  • Any employees or representatives of the parties, when the case involves a company or corporate entity;
  • The operator of the motor vehicle, owner of property, health care provider, manufacturer, or other individuals who have knowledge about how the fatal accident happened;
  • A physician who treated the victim for injuries;
  • Certain experts that either side retains to assist with the litigation process or to testify at trial, such as medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, and financial specialists.

How Do the Proceedings Work?

Though it doesn’t take place in a courtroom, a deposition is still a formal proceeding. Attendees will include the deponent and counsel, a court reporter, and the attorney taking the deposition. Though your lawyer will explain the details and protect your interests throughout the deposition, a few more points may help you understand what to expect:

  • The role of the court reporter is to swear in the deponent and record the entire question-and-answer session. A written transcript will be available shortly after the deposition.
  • If you’re being deposed, you should understand what it means to be under oath. You must be truthful in your statements, and there are serious consequences for dishonesty.
  • Never speculate when answering a question. If you don’t know the answer, that should be your response.
  • Unlike other court-related proceedings, there are limitations to objections by your attorney. The only time your lawyer may interrupt with an objection is if the question pertains to privileged or confidential information.

Consult with a Wrongful Death Attorney

If you lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, depositions are just a small part of the litigation process in a wrongful death case. There are additional discovery matters, motion hearings, numerous court appearances, and many other matters, all of which impact your right to recover compensation. Of course, there’s also the trial, where both sides will present evidence and examine witnesses. Under the circumstances, solid legal skills are essential, so you should trust your claim to an experienced lawyer.

To discuss how a veteran Houston attorney with The Krist Law Firm can help if you lost a loved one in an accident caused by negligence, contact us at (281) 283-8500 or online to schedule a free consultation.