A deposition is a written record of a witness’ testimony that will be used during a trial. It is conducted by the other party’s lawyer to gather information after a lawsuit has been filed. The person deposed is called the deponent. This person is put under oath and must answer the questions asked both truthfully and to the best of his or her ability. The deponent’s attorney is permitted to attend the deposition.
Leading Up to the Deposition
The lawyer requesting the deposition will schedule it and notify the deponent’s attorney of the date, time, and place. Once a notice of deposition has been received, the individual must attend as it is a critical part of the discovery process. There is no subpoena required to be given.
If there is a problem with the requested deposition time, the lawyers involved will generally work out a date and time that is agreeable to all. The deposition will normally take place in the opposing counsel’s office. Attorneys for both sides and a court reporter typically will attend.
What to Expect During a Deposition
The deposition process is not like what is seen during a television courtroom drama. Real-life depositions are more civil without the opposing lawyer spouting accusations. It is more likely that the lawyer will be professional and polite to put the deponent at ease in the hopes he or she will open up and reveal information, rather than shutting down out of fear.
The lawyer will ask a series of questions. The answers are recorded in a deposition transcript. The deponent’s lawyer cannot give him or her answers. However, the deposed’s injury lawyer will usually prepare him or her beforehand.
The questions asked during a deposition are called interrogatories and fall into some general categories, including:
- General personal information
- Physical condition before the injury
- Information about the accident
- Description of injury
- Life after the accident
If the opposing lawyer goes outside the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the deponent’s lawyer will speak up.
Importance of the Deposition
A deposition provides an opportunity for the deponent to share his or her side of what happened in an accident. It allows the lawyers from both sides to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the personal injury case. It also gives insight into how testimony is likely to go during the trial.