Depositions are used to “lock in” your testimony. It is important that you listen carefully to the question and answer as truthfully, accurately, and concisely as possible.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a question and answer session done under oath in the presence of your attorney, opposing counsel, and a court reporter. The transcript of the session becomes part of the court’s file. The other party to the lawsuit may or may not be present at the deposition. Generally, the deposition takes place in an informal setting such as a conference room at a law firm. You will be notified in writing of the date, time, and location of the deposition. In order to protect your interests, one of our attorneys will be present during the entire deposition.
The purpose of a deposition is to allow parties and their lawyers to investigate and gather facts and information to help them assess their case and plan the development of case strategy. It also provides attorneys with an opportunity to assess the demeanor and credibility of a witness.
The attorney taking the deposition will likely ask questions about your background, employment history, and facts and events relating to the case. Also, depending on the type of claim, the attorney may ask questions about the policies and procedures of your company or your employer’s company. Further, if you are the plaintiff, the attorney may ask about your injuries or the damages you suffered as a result of the incident that is pertinent to the lawsuit.
How Do I Prepare for a Deposition?
Prior to the deposition, we will schedule a face-to-face meeting that will occur a day or two before your deposition. The purpose of this meeting is to prepare you for the deposition. We will discuss the types of questions that will be asked by the opposing attorney, as well as the topics that will likely be covered. In addition, we will discuss important deposition guidelines, such as responding verbally to questions, taking the time to think about your responses, and not offering speculative testimony.
In some circumstances, you may be required to bring documents to the deposition and provide them to opposing counsel. If that is the case, we will advise you about the specific categories of documents that you must bring, and we will review them with you at the pre-deposition meeting.
Why Is a Deposition Important?
Depositions are used to “lock in” your testimony. Once deposition testimony is given, it can be used to discredit a witness if that witness gives contradictory or different testimony during a later hearing or at trial. Therefore, in order to avoid credibility issues, it is important that you:
• Listen carefully to the questions asked;
• Take your time and think carefully about your answers;
• Answer the questions as truthfully, accurately, and concisely as possible.
How Should I Dress for a Deposition?
Dress appropriately and present yourself with a well-groomed and professional appearance. Although it is not necessary to wear a suit, jacket, or tie, we recommend attending the deposition in “business casual” attire (i.e., a collared shirt, slacks or khaki pants, and dress shoes). T-shirts, jeans, shorts, baseball caps, tennis shoes, and flip-flops should be avoided.
What Will Happen at the Deposition?
As stated before, a deposition is a question and answer session taken in the presence of your attorney, opposing counsel, and a court reporter. At the beginning of the deposition, the court reporter will have you raise your right hand and take an oath, just as in a court of law. Therefore, it is important that you answer questions truthfully. The reporter will then turn the questioning over to the opposing attorney. During the deposition, everything that is said is documented on the record by the court reporter.
Usually, the opposing party’s lawyer handles all of the questioning. However, there are occasions where we may ask a few questions at the end of the deposition in order to clarify certain parts of your testimony. During questioning by the other attorney, we may interject to clarify the question or lead you to a more clear or concise answer. In addition, we may object to a question. If an objection is raised, you should not answer the question until told, as the question may be inappropriate.
After the deposition is completed, the court reporter will type everything that was said on the record into a booklet called a transcript. You will then have opportunity to review the transcript and make any necessary changes and corrections to your testimony. Once the transcript has been reviewed, you will sign the transcript under penalty of perjury and return it to our office for safe keeping.