When a deposition is taken of a plaintiff, witness, defendant or another person in a car accident litigation case, then the deposition can be used during trial proceedings. Since the deposition is testimony under oath, it may be admissible when it complies with the Civil Rules and the Rules of Evidence. One such instance is that deposition testimony is admissible to contradict or impeach testimony at trial that is contrary to the deposition. Additionally, the deposition could be the admissible testimony of a witness who passed away prior to the trial or an expert witness.
For example, if a witness testifies at trial that a stoplight was red and the defendant drove through the light, then at trial the witness testifies that the light was yellow – plaintiff’s counsel could offer the deposition testimony to impeach the witnesses’ testimony regarding the color of the light.
A deposition may be entered as evidence in whole or in part to the trial record. If a party seeks to enter only a portion of the deposition, additional portions may be entered if necessary to provide context, shed light on another issue, etc.
A deposition may not be admissible as evidence at trial if it violates the civil rules or rules of evidence or if the taking of the deposition was erroneous or the transcript is erroneous.
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Washington Civil Rule 32 for Washington Superior Courts is as follows:
Civil Rule 32: Use of Depositions in Court Proceedings
(a) Use of depositions. At the trial or upon the hearing of a motion or an interlocutory proceeding, any part or all of a deposition, so far as admissible under the Rules of Evidence applied as though the witness were then present and testifying, may be used against any party who was present or represented at the taking of the deposition or who had reasonable notice thereof, in accordance with any of the following provisions:
(1) Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the testimony of deponent as a witness or for any purpose permitted by the Rules of Evidence.
(2) The deposition of a party or of anyone who at the time of taking the deposition was an officer, director, or managing agent, or a person designated under rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a public or private corporation, partnership or association or governmental agency which is a party may be used by an adverse party for any purpose.
(3) The deposition of a witness, whether or not a party, may be used by any party for any purpose if the court finds:
(A) that the witness is dead; or (B) that the witness resides out of the county and more than 20 miles from the place of trial, unless it appears that the absence of the witness was procured by the party offering the deposition or unless the witness is an out-of-state expert subject to subsection (a)(5)(A) of this rule; or (C) that the witness is unable to attend or testify because of age, illness, infirmity, or imprisonment; or (D) that the party offering the deposition has been unable to procure the attendance of the witness by subpoena; or (E) upon application and notice, that such exceptional circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the interest of justice and with due regard to the importance of presenting the testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to be used.
(4) If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, an adverse party may require the party to introduce any other part which ought in fairness to be considered with the part introduced, and any party may introduce any other parts.
(5) The deposition of an expert witness may be used as follows:
(A) The discovery deposition of an opposing party’s rule 26(b)(5) expert witness, who resides outside the state of Washington, may be used if reasonable notice before the trial date is provided to all parties and any party against whom the deposition is intended to be used is given a reasonable opportunity to depose the expert again.
(B) The deposition of a health care professional, even though available to testify at trial, taken with the expressly stated purpose of preserving the deponent’s testimony for trial, may be used if, before the taking of the deposition, there has been compliance with discovery requests made pursuant to rules 26(b)(5)(A)(i), 33, 34, and 35 (as applicable) and if the opposing party is afforded an adequate opportunity to prepare, by discovery deposition of the deponent or other means, for cross-examination of the deponent.
Substitution of parties pursuant to rule 25 does not affect the right to use depositions previously taken; and, when an action has been brought in any court of the United States or of any state and another action involving the same issues and subject matter is afterward brought between the same parties or their representatives or successors in interest, all depositions lawfully taken and duly filed in the former action may be used in the latter as if originally taken therefor. A deposition previously taken may also be used as permitted by the Rules of Evidence.
(b) Objections to admissibility. Subject to the provisions of rule 28(b) and subsection (d)(3) of this rule, an objection may be made at the trial or hearing to receiving in evidence any deposition or part thereof for any reason which would require the exclusion of the evidence if the witness were then present and testifying.
(c) Effect of taking or using depositions. A party does not make a person the party’s own witness for any purpose by taking the person’s deposition. The introduction in evidence of the deposition or any part thereof for any purpose other than that of contradicting or impeaching the deponent makes the deponent the witness of the party introducing the deposition, but this shall not apply to the use by an adverse party of a deposition under subsection (a)(2) of this rule. At the trial or hearing, any party may rebut any relevant evidence contained in a deposition whether introduced by the party or by any other party.
(d) Effect of errors and irregularities in depositions.
(1) As to notice. All errors and irregularities in the notice for taking a deposition are waived unless written objection is promptly served upon the party giving the notice.
(2) As to disqualification of officer. Objection to taking a deposition because of disqualification of the officer before whom it is to be taken is waived unless made before the taking of the deposition begins or as soon thereafter as the disqualification becomes known or could be discovered with reasonable diligence.
(3) As to taking of a deposition.
(A) Objections to the competency of a witness or to the competency, relevancy, or materiality of testimony are not waived by failure to make them before or during the taking of the deposition unless the ground of the objection is one which might have been obviated or removed if presented at that time.
(B) Errors and irregularities occurring at the oral examination in the manner of taking the deposition, in the form of the questions or answers, in the oath or affirmation, or in the conduct of parties, and errors of any kind which might be obviated, removed, or cured if promptly presented, are waived unless seasonable objection thereto is made at the taking of the deposition.
(C) Objections to the form of written questions submitted under rule 31 are waived unless served in writing upon the party propounding them within the time allowed for serving the succeeding cross or other questions and within 5 days after service of the last questions authorized.
(4) As to completion and return of deposition. Errors and irregularities in the manner in which the testimony is transcribed or the deposition is prepared, signed, certified, sealed, endorsed, transmitted, filed, or otherwise dealt with by the officer under rules 30 and 31 are waived unless a motion to suppress the deposition or some part thereof is made with reasonable promptness after such defect is, or with due diligence might have been, ascertained.
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