A crucial part of civil litigation cases, deposition is an important tool that clearly communicates the important points present in a deposition transcript. In simple terms, deposition summaries are the concise form of deposition transcripts, which are designed to help busy attorneys and law firms distill complex testimonies into an easy-to-use format. Typically, the deposition transcript may run into hundreds of pages of transcribed conversations and an attorney may find it virtually impossible to read and remember everything in the transcript. This is where deposition summaries become relevant. Deposition summaries offer a concise overview of the deposition and helps in the pretrial preparation. Deposition summary preparation is one of the significant medical records services that attorneys can utilize to good effect. It identifies important points in the deposition by page and line, allowing fast and reliable access to key testimony. These summaries can provide both the plaintiff and the defense side the opportunity to find more about witnesses and what they would be able to testify.
Defining the Deposition Summary Objective
As discussed above, the basic objective of a deposition summary is to present a summarized version of the deponent’s testimony in an accurate and concise manner to the reviewing party. The deposition summary should cover the main and relevant points of the deposition, and should be useful in the following ways -
- Support trial preparation
- Summarize witnesses' testimony at the trial
- Refresh the memory of the witness before the hearing or trial
- Help in preparing additional discovery
- Enable attorneys to better prepare motions and evidence
- Describe a deposition for the insurance client or adjuster
- Assist attorneys not present at deposition
Key Benefits of Using Deposition Summaries
Given the huge volume of paperwork that depositions can necessitate, one of the best ways to streamline the process is to draft a summary of the deposition. The benefits of using deposition summaries are many, some of which are discussed below -
- Saves Time – Time is an important aspect in every legal case and this is what makes deposition summaries so helpful. As they cover only the high points of a deposition, allowing for quick reference in both pretrial and courtroom settings – it can save hours’ worth of time when trying to find a specific portion of the testimony. Summaries free up the attorneys' time allowing them to focus on more technical legal work and thereby devote more time to winning a case.
- Helps in Pre-trial Preparation - Having to filter through the entire printed copy of a deposition can consume a significant amount of time. When preparing for a trial, the pre-trial prep time is essential for getting things in order. Summaries reduce reams of material to a shorter, more concise and easy-to-read transcript format that can be effectively used when preparing for a court trial. In addition, these can also serve as a quick point of reference during legal research.
- Critical to the Court Process – Often, summaries are used to help refresh the memory of a witness or create a reference point during a specific portion of the testimony. The ability to identify specific points that are key to an argument can reinforce an attorney’s position, making the testimony or evidence more credible.
- Useful in Technical Testimony – As deposition summaries are easy to read, they greatly ease handling of cases that involve technical testimony such as personal injury or workers’ compensation. Since any judgment is dependent on the quality of witnesses and evidence provided, deposition summaries ease out the complexities.
- Useful for the Litigation Team - Summaries are also read by litigation team members and clients. Concise deposition summaries are also requested by insurance companies.
- Delivers Value to the Client – Summarizing witness statements requires a considerable amount of time and resources on the law firm’s part. Saving time through the use of summaries can result in substantial financial savings for the client as well as allow attorneys to utilize their valuable time on other aspects of the case.
Types of Deposition Summaries
Here discussed are the different types of deposition summaries –
- Chronological Summary - In this type of summary, the facts are presented in a chronological order. This may be important especially in personal injury and criminal cases.
- Page-Line Summary - Also called a page-by-page summary, this type of summary is mostly preferred in cases involving financial transactions and in commercial litigation. This type is formatted so that the summary is aligned with the page-line and exhibit reference. The order followed is the same as that of the original transcript.
- Topic-by-Topic Summary - Also called topical summaries, these summaries are the preferred format in workers’ compensation and auto accident cases as they can be organized on the basis of accident facts. It provides the reader with a quick overview of the deposition based on the topic or subject. The topic signifies the legal elements or conditions to be validated in court.
Preparing a Deposition Summary – Key Considerations
The summary must contain all the relevant facts stated by the witness. It must be objective, without any personal opinions incorporated into it. The prepared summary must correctly recognize the major points in the witness testimony and they should also understand the legal points involved. Though there is no prescribed length for a deposition summary, it is best to keep it as short as possible.
While preparing a deposition summary, the following points must be considered –
- Read the Entire Deposition – Read the entire transcript before summarizing it. This is because the summarizer must know all the specific details of the case, right from intake to discovery. It will help understand all the hidden details that may be important to the case. Moreover, a detailed reading will provide a clear sense of the general theme and tone of the deposition. It will provide a clear picture of what mattered most to the attorney taking the deposition as well as what the witness had to say.
- Accurate and Concise - The summary must be accurate and clearly communicate the key points covered in the full deposition transcript. The summary can be prepared in a narrative format or written like an outline. Apart from the written summary, key points in the deposition can be represented using graphs or charts. The summarizer must quickly state the general theme of the deposition and what was obtained.
- Include the Essential Details in the Summary – Make sure to include all the relevant details in the summary by focusing on the key facts that could prove useful during trial. Taking the time and effort to prioritize information will help avoid unnecessary or unrelated details from getting included into the summary. Include all details that the jury may be told if the case goes to trial. Negative testimony may be as significant as positive testimony as the attorney will be prepared to handle negative aspects in the courtroom in case of a trial. Experts suggest that in a good deposition summary, information contained in five pages of witness testimony should be contained in a single page of the summary. For a well-structured summary, keep the line and page numbers in the left column and the summary in the right column, including the case, date, and name of the witness. Consider adding a table of index of contents if necessary.
- Be Consistent - Always check with the attorney what format they want the summary in. One common structure is to reference the relevant page and line numbers. Different sections and subsections by which the attorney is performing the examination can be separated. In addition, try to include additional discoveries that may be helpful to the attorney. Make sure to proofread the deposition summary thoroughly to avoid errors and any confusion.
Preparing the summary of a witness’ deposition is not an easy task as it demands extensive experience in the field of ligation and good English writing skills. It is also important to understand all aspects of the case in a proper manner. To be useful during the course of a trial, deposition summaries must be well-documented and neatly formatted. Professional providers of medical review services can help attorneys analyze and gather important facts and medical facts related to the case and prepare accurate deposition summaries. Such reputable providers may focus on creating excellent quality deposition summaries, taking care to reduce the lengthy testimony to relevant facts. All dates, names, figures, exhibits, and significant events will be visibly recorded. The summary will be precisely organized for easy examination and understanding, and all unnecessary information will be avoided.
Published by MOS Medical Record Reviews