What is a Deposition?
Legal Briefs: What is a Deposition?
You’ve been subpoenaed to give a deposition in a lawsuit. That sounds serious. And it is.
So what do you do? When? What do you need to know? What should you communicate?
A deposition usually occurs at the early stage (the discovery phase) of a civil or criminal case. However, its effect can have significant and far-reaching consequences throughout the entire case, including having great impact on the outcome.
Depositions are based in facts, facts, and more facts. If you’re being deposed, your understanding and communicating of the facts is critical and absolutely necessary.
The below points will help you better understand the deposition process and be more prepared if you’re ever asked to provide one.
WHAT is a deposition?
In short, a deposition is a formal oral or written investigation that’s conducted with a witness to find out more about a legal case. The deposition seeks to reveal as many facts as possible about the who's, what's, why's, and how's of a case.
The oral statement of a witness, or deponent, is taken under oath by an attorney who asks a series of questions. A recording, video, or written account can be used to accurately document the testimony.
In most cases, signed affidavits are needed to certify the accuracy of the transcript (a written document of everything that was said during the deposition).
WHY is a deposition taken?
There are two main purposes of a deposition. The first reason is the for the attorneys to acquire an understanding and accurate recording of facts from a witness of the incident related to the lawsuit.
The second reason for a deposition is to preserve the witness’ testimony and make it a legal court record.
WHO is involved in a deposition?
Typically, there are four major parties in a deposition:
1. The witness, or deponent: Answers the questions
2. The opposing attorney: Asks the questions
3. The deponent’s attorney: Provides limited guidance to the witness
4. The court reporter: Officially records and documents the testimony
WHEN and WHERE is a deposition conducted?
Since a deposition is part of the pre-trial, discovery process, it occurs at the beginning of a case before the courtroom activity begins. It will most likely, but not always, occur at the office of one of the attorneys, typically the one who requests the deposition. Recently, a shift has been made due to COVID-19 and depositions can be held via video call.
WHAT happens at a deposition?
Depositions are as varied as the cases for which they are requested. They can be quick and friendly, lasting as little as 15 minutes, or the time limits can vary by jurisdiction. In Texas, the deposition is limited to 6 hours, in Georgia, 7 hours and Federal court limitations are 8 hours unless the judge orders less or more time.
Regardless of the length of the deposition process, the witness will usually be provided breaks, food, and drink to make the process comfortable.
The typical deposition is a simple question-and-answer process between the witness and the inquiring attorney, which is recorded word-for-word by the attending court reporter.
Though they may seem simple and matter-of-fact, depositions are critical to court cases as they provide invaluable information to both sides in letting them know the relative strength or weakness of the case and its witnesses.
Amy Witherite, founder and lead attorney at Witherite Law Group, states, “Depositions are vital to car and truck wreck cases. Many times over I’ve seen a deposition be the key deciding factor in a case. They are critical tools to building a case. Sometimes it boils down to one sentence or even one word in a deposition that makes the difference in us getting our client the settlement they deserve.”
The accident attorneys of Witherite Law Group help those who have been injured in a car or truck accident. Get legal help today by calling 1-800-CarWreck® or 1-800-TruckWreck or visiting www.WitheriteLaw.com. We’re available 24/7.