What is a Deposition & How Does it Work?
What is a deposition?
A deposition is a person’s sworn under oath testimony occurring outside of a courtroom. This is when a party to a lawsuit, a witness, a medical doctor or expert in the case testifies, in advance of trial, about what they know and what their opinions are about the legal dispute. It is oral testimony of a witness taken under oath that is recorded through a written transcript by a court reported for later use at trial as evidence in the case. The purpose of a deposition is to find out what the witness knows, and to preserve their testimony so that the parties involved in the lawsuit can learn all the facts and no one is surprised at trial. A deposition is one method lawyers use to gain information to help prepare a case for trial. Anyone who may have relevant information about the facts of the case may be deposed.
How does a deposition work and what should you expect?
In Colorado, there are limitations on how long a deposition can last. Depositions can take as long as 4-6 hours. However, in most situations, they generally last 2-3 hours for parties to the lawsuit and sometimes only 30 minutes to an hour for a witness. Depositions take place in an attorney’s office, not a courtroom. Your attorney, a court reporter, and their attorney are usually present in a conference room. You will be placed under oath and the opposing counsel will ask a series of questions about facts and events related to the case, which you will be obligated to answer completely and truthfully. Your attorney can object to the questions if appropriate, but since a judge will not be present, any objections must be ruled on at a later date and only in very rare situations will your attorney instruct you not to provide a verbal answer to a question. The opposing lawyer, because you and your attorney share what’s called “attorney client privilege” and confidentiality, cannot ask you about conversations or information and discussions you had with your own lawyer. That information and those conversations are protected.
A court reporter will transcribe the deposition word for word and ensure that it is properly recorded and that the transcript reflects accurate events and testimony that occurred at the deposition. You will get a copy of the transcription of the deposition about 7-10 days after its over. When you get it, you can read it, make sure its accurate, and if everything appears correct you can sign it. Either attorney can use the transcript at trial or in support of motions filed in the case.
How to prepare for a deposition
Depositions offer both sides an equal opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in their respective cases so that they can prepare for them at trial. Opposing counsel will try to pin you down to a specific story, maybe a story that is not always the truth but is better for the other side, their attorneys and the insurance company. It’s important to be mindful that the defense attorney has an agenda entering into this deposition. That agenda is often aimed at getting testimony that may hurt your case, even if it’s not accurate or a truthful representation of the event or your injuries and treatment.
For instance, the attorney may try to challenge how the accident occurred to project blame on you – when you did nothing wrong. Or, the attorney may try to establish a past medical injury or treatment to challenge whether the injuries caused in this accident were from something else in your life. It’s unfortunate, and while not all defense lawyers are the same, the attorney may do these things during your deposition. Just stand your ground and your lawyer will be there to support you. A deposition is a chance to tell your story and an opportunity to explain to the other attorney and his or her client how the tragic events that led to this lawsuit changed your life.
To prepare for your deposition, it’s important to refresh your memory about some specifics which you may not completely remember. It’s important to provide consistent histories about what happened, or the defense lawyer could unfairly use that against you. Therefore, it is important to review any statements you have made in the past about your case, the police report in a traffic accident and other documents which may have been filed in court – like your interrogatory responses. Review any notes, logs, calendars and other paperwork so that you can easily recall the important details you may be questioned about, such as dates, times and events relevant to your case. Be clear, be specific, and be professional and respectful. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer to a question. If questioned about medical records, ask the attorney to give you a copy of a record so that you can review it and answers these questions. Don’t guess, it’s important that the testimony is accurate. If you have any concerns, discuss them with your lawyer before the deposition. If there are areas which concern personal matters which you don’t want to disclose and maybe specific things that you feel may not be appropriate or relevant, then you should discuss these with your attorney before your deposition. If your attorney learns things for the first time at your deposition, it may be more difficult to protect your rights and interests in certain privacy related matters. Get sleep the night before your deposition, have something to eat before the deposition, don’t take any medications that could make it difficult for you to provide testimony that day and take a deep breath. You didn’t do anything wrong, this is just a chance to tell your story and your lawyer will be there every minute along the way to support you.
At Whalen Hersh, we’ve represented many car accident clients over the years and recovered over $25 million in settlements, judgments and verdicts. Our goal is to establish a direct, meaningful, trusted and reliable relationship and secure a settlement that is fair and equitable. Our firm exclusively represents clients against insurance companies and corporations in personal injury matters, and we will work closely with you to ensure that you are prepared for any deposition you are required to give in your case.
Past Case Results
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and are seeking a compassionate, experienced, personal injury attorney with a proven track record of success, give us a call. Whalen Hersh lawyers will fight for your best interests both in and out of the courtroom. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.
You can reach us in Denver at (720) 307-2666 or in Colorado Springs at (719) 644-7000 to learn more. Our offices are located in the Denver Tech Center at 7955 East Arapahoe Court, Suite 2375, Centennial, CO 80112, and in Colorado Springs in the Alamo Corporate Center located at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 1100. We look forward to working with you.