Deposition Summary – Its Structure, Content, and Use

by | Published on Feb 10, 2021 | Deposition Summary

A deposition summary is an important tool that enables attorneys to clearly communicate the important points present in a deposition transcript. Typically, the deposition transcript may run to 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 significant. Deposition summary preparation is one of the significant medical records services that attorneys can utilize to good effect. Depositions provide both the plaintiff and the defense side the opportunity to find out more about witnesses and what they would be able to testify about at trial.

Here’s a look at the types of deposition summaries

  • Chronological Summary: In this type of summary, the facts are presented in a chronological order. Chronology may be important especially in personal injury and criminal cases.
  • Page-Line Summary: Also called a page-by-page summary, 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. Page-line summaries are preferred in cases involving financial transactions and in commercial litigation.
  • Topic-by-Topic Summary: These are also called topical summaries and provide the reader with a quick overview of the deposition based on the topic or subject. The topic signifies the legal elements/conditions to be validated in court. These are the preferred format in workers’ compensation, and auto accident cases because the summary can be organized on the basis of accident facts.

So, what does a deposition summary contain?

A shortened version of the deposition transcript, the summary must contain all the applicable facts stated by the witness. It must be objective, without any personal opinions incorporated into it. Though there is no prescribed length for a deposition summary, it is best to keep it as short as possible. The person creating the summary must be able to recognize the main points in the witness testimony. He/she should also ideally have an understanding of the legal points involved. Besides this, the summarizer must be capable of sifting out the main points inclusive of any supported/non-supported variation by the deposing witness.

When preparing a deposition summary, the following considerations are important.

  • Read the Entire Deposition: This is because the summarizer must know all details of the case, right from intake to discovery. It will help understand what mattered most to the attorney taking the deposition as well as a clear picture of what the witness had to say.
  • Note the Important Questions and Answers in the Testimony: This will save the summarizer a lot of time later on when actually making a summary.
  • Be Accurate and Concise: The summarizer must quickly state the general theme of the deposition and what was obtained. The deposition summary must be accurate and succinct.
  • Be Consistent: It is important to 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.
  • Include additional discoveries that may be helpful to the attorney.
  • Proofread the deposition summary thoroughly to avoid errors and confusion.

One of the most powerful litigation tools, deposition summaries are vital for a successful motion practice, preparing for ensuing depositions, and direct and cross examinations of witnesses at trial. It helps the witness refresh his/her mind and provides a frame of reference for the opposing counsel’s witness testimony. Deposition summaries are also useful to the judge, who may use the summary to prepare a summing up statement or use it during the trial. Jurors on their part, also may prefer a deposition summary to a lengthy written testimony.

Attorneys partnering with a medical chart review company can benefit from objective, accurate and timely deposition summaries that save them valuable time and effort. These summaries are useful in the pre-trial stage as well as in court.

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