#LegalTermTuesday: What is a Deposition?
A deposition, simply put, is a question-and-answer session. It is part of the discovery process before a lawsuit, which is when both parties gather evidence and facts about the events of the lawsuit; naturally, the testimony of victims and witnesses is a very important part of this.
During deposition, a witness gives sworn testimony, just like they would give in court. Attorneys for both parties will be present, and the defense attorney will ask questions about their memory of the incident, or their role in it. For the defense attorney, the deposition is a chance to catch the witnesses in a lie, or find something that diminishes the plaintiff’s claims. This is why depositions can be so stressful! However, for all sides involved, the main goal of the deposition should be to gain a truthful and accurate picture of the events surrounding the lawsuit.
Does a deposition happen in court?
Unlike testimony given during a trial, depositions don’t take place in a courtroom. Instead, they usually happen at an attorney’s office. The attorneys will be present, just like they would be at a trial, but their role is more limited. They can make objections, but without a judge to rule on the objections, the client usually has to answer all questions.
A reporter (called a stenographer) is present during the deposition, and will produce a transcript of the events. Sometimes, the deposition is taped.
What kinds of questions will be asked?
During a deposition, questions will likely involve subjects like:
- Name, age, and other basic facts
- Current and past employment
- Past injuries, and any treatment you sought for those injuries
- The events of your accident — for example: were you wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred? Did you report the injury to your employer?
- What you witnessed during the incident — for example: where did the victim fall when their injury occurred? Did the car stick around after hitting the pedestrian? Was the employee using proper safety restraints at the time of the accident?
What should I do during a deposition?
- All you have to do is tell the truth.
- If you do not remember an event or date, say “I do not remember” or “I do not know.” Don’t try to guess. If you guess and say something incorrectly, it may be later used against you.
- Always listen to the questions you are being asked. Do not try to answer a question before it is finished, and never assume you know the answer to the question before you have heard it all.
- If you are confused about the wording of a question, ask for clarification
- Stay calm and cooperative. If you get angry or emotional, your mental state could impact your answers to certain questions
- Respond clearly, with “yes” or “no.”
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.