What is a deposition, and what should you expect if you're going to be deposed?
There are many reasons to take a deposition. Perhaps you were a witness to a car accident or a personal injury case, or you have some other pertinent information that can be used in a lawsuit. Or, you might be one of the parties in a case.
In any event, here are seven tips and pointers to help you prepare for your deposition:
- It's a fact-finding mission, not an interrogation. A civil trial is divided into several phases. The discovery phase of a civil trial is a fact-finding stage, and depositions are part of that. It's a pre-trial phase when the attorneys from both sides are trying to gather information to make their case.
- Your statements will be recorded. There will be a court reporter recording the statements at the deposition. Audio or video recordings are also common, and you'll likely be notified ahead of time if that's happening in your case.
- It can last a long time. This could be an all-day affair, though there may be rules that can limit the length of depositions in certain situations. Be ready to spend a long time answering questions.
- You can bring your attorney. Attorneys from both sides of the lawsuit will be present, so you'll have some form of legal representation there. If you're a witness to an accident or injury and not a named party in the lawsuit, you can bring your own attorney, too.
- Not being truthful could get you in trouble later on. Be truthful. If you lie, you're getting yourself into legal hot water. And if you're a witness, your testimony could be very important to the case. If you're a named party, keep in mind that the deposition isn't a cross-examination, where the attorneys will be out to prove a point. They're just gathering information to make their case.
- You can answer even if your attorney objects. If your attorney objects, you still answer the question. The objection will be dealt with later on when a judge rules on it, Inside Counsel reminds us.
- Dress professionally. Actually, this one is your call, but remember: You are dealing with legal professionals and your deposition might be videotaped. It's usually a good idea to dress a little professionally, if only to show that you're taking your deposition seriously. But there really is no dress code for a deposition.
- Stages of a Civil Case (FindLaw)
- Lawsuits: A Practical Guide (FindLaw) 3 Things You Should Never Do at a Deposition (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Lil Wayne Deposition Videos Released in Quincy Jones III Lawsuit (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)