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.