What To Expect At A Deposition

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If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you may be told that the opposing attorney wants to depose you. This does not mean removing you from power as the ruler of a foreign country, although that is one of the dictionary definitions of the word.

What it means is that you will be giving a deposition. Taking depositions is part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit — that is, when the parties are gathering information and preparing their respective cases. Giving a deposition simply means sitting down with the opposing attorney, accompanied by your own attorney, and answering questions. The process is somewhat less formal than a courtroom proceeding, but still highly structured. And it can be crucial to the outcome of your case.

If you have never given a deposition before, the prospect may be intimidating. A good personal injury attorney, however, always takes some time beforehand to prepare you, offering careful advice on everything from how to dress to how best to phrase your responses to the questions. Here are some things you can expect at your deposition:

  • It will take place at a predetermined time and place, such as a law office, not in a courtroom.
  • You will be sworn in (to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc.), just as you would be in court.
  • After you are sworn in, you and your attorney are generally not permitted to communicate with each other during your testimony.
  • You are permitted to bring any documents, notes, etc. that help you answer the questions.
  • When the opposing attorney is questioning you, your attorney may voice objections only to the form of a question or based on attorney-client privilege, confidentiality or limitations previously imposed by the court.
  • Your attorney may cross-examine you when the opposing attorney is finished.
  • The entire session will be recorded and transcribed by a court reporter.

The most important thing to keep in mind: the transcript of your deposition can be used as evidence if your case goes to court. So be sure to answer all questions thoughtfully and honestly.