What happens at a deposition in a lawsuit?

At depositions, witnesses appear at a predetermined time and place and give testimonies under oath. Depositions typically occur during the discovery phase of a lawsuit and have two purposes: first, to learn what the witnesses know and record their testimonies, and second, to allow both parties to learn all of the facts before their trial so that no one is caught off-guard during the trial.

The unique facts and circumstances of each case will determine whether a deposition is needed or not. For example, cases that involve only legal, not factual, issues usually do not require depositions.

Witness testimony and other evidence are not relevant to these disputes. What are depositions used for?

  • To find out what the witness knows.
  • To gather essential facts regarding the case.
  • To establish how the incident occurred.
  • To preserve the witness' testimony.

A deposition represents an opportunity for parties involved in a civil lawsuit to obtain testimony from a witness; it is part of the discovery process and may be used at trial. The discovery process is:

  • A formal investigation conducted to uncover more about the case.
  • A pre-trial phase that can drive the opposing sides to come to a settlement without having to go to trial.

Preparation prior to going into a deposition is an essential step that requires you to meet your attorney in advance and go over related aspects involving:

  • Court rules governing how depositions are taken.
  • Questions the opposing counsel might ask you.
  • Documents that you’re likely to be questioned about.
  • Guidance on how to conduct yourself during the deposition.

What happens during a deposition?

A deposition is a simple procedure, a session of questions asked by the opposing counsel that the witness has to answer.

The focus for the witness is not on telling their story but on telling the truth to the opposing counsel.

People do not always comply with the request to appear at a deposition, and so, to compel them to attend, a subpoena may be served, demanding them to show up at a given place and time.

Scheduling a deposition requires the plaintiff or defendant to:

  • Give reasonable notice to all parties.
  • Establish a location – at the law firm or a court reporter’s office.

The parties who have a legal right to be present at a deposition are:

  • Witnesses
  • The plaintiff with their lawyer
  • The defendant with their lawyer
  • A court reporter or videographer

During a deposition, attorneys will ask the witness a series of questions related to the case. The entire deposition is either:

  • Recorded word-for-word by a court reporter, who will produce a transcript at a later time.
  • Videotaped if the deponent is very ill, is not well enough for pre-trial procedures, or if they are out of town/unavailable.

Rule 30(d)(1), Federal Rules of Civil Procedures, limits a Florida deposition to one day of seven hours unless otherwise authorized by the Court or provided by the parties. This typically means seven hours of actual testimony, not including time spent for rest or meals.

What happens after a deposition?

After the deposition, the court reporter prepares a written transcript. Copies are sent to all parties, and the transcript is reviewed for inconsistencies or mistakes. Your lawyer will evaluate your deposition and give you an assessment.

The written transcript may be used in a potential trial. Deposition transcripts and other discovery materials are generally not considered part of the public record, but they become so when filed with the court. When a deposition becomes part of a public court record, it may be accessed for a long time after the case is over.

Once the deposition is completed, the attorneys further analyze the case for supplementary findings; therefore, the timing of receiving a settlement is quite difficult to establish.

To ensure that all the aspects have been covered before the trial, The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary will help you prepare the deposition statement in advance by summarizing all the critical aspects of your case. We advise all our clients to take pictures or make videos, which clearly show their state shortly after they have been injured.

When preparing for a deposition, you will need an experienced lawyer by your side with the proper resources and dedication to help you through the entire process. Contact The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary today. Our initial advice and case evaluation are always free of charge.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.