A deposition is a recorded interview with another party (the deponent) under oath, outside of court. The deposition provides useful evidence related to the parties’ claims. A transcription of the deposition can also be used as evidence of the deponent’s previous testimony.
Most depositions are handled without direct court supervision. The parties to a lawsuit coordinate and manage the depositions. However, some depositions begin with a subpoena, whereby a court orders a party to appear at the deposition or face contempt of court.
In an injury case, a witness might be the injury victim (plaintiff) or the at-fault party (defendant). Witnesses might also include individuals who observed the accident or have knowledge of the facts of the case.
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What is the Purpose of a Deposition?
Depositions are part of the information-gather phase of a personal injury case known as discovery. Depositions provide a way for parties to get more information about the claims at issue in their case.
Incidentally, depositions are typically hearsay (an out-of-court statement used to prove the truth of a matter) and therefore inadmissible at trial. However, deposition testimony may be admissible in court if:
- A party makes a statement against their legal interest
- A witness’s testimony at trial is inconsistent with their testimony in the deposition
- A witness is unavailable at trial
Parties might depose each other or other witnesses to obtain information about the circumstances of an accident, the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff’s damages after the injury, and more.
Do I Have to Go to a Deposition?
Yes, you do need to attend your deposition. A deposition is typically requested by another party’s attorney. For example, an insurance defense lawyer or the defendant’s lawyer may request a deposition of the plaintiff/injury victim.
During a deposition, a deponent should:
- Show up on time and stay the whole deposition
- Behave respectfully
- Bring any required evidence
- Answer questions unless their lawyer advises them against it
Typically, only parties involved in the lawsuit will have attorneys present at the deposition. An eyewitness or another party will often not have attorneys during the deposition.
What Kinds of Questions Will They Ask Me?
At a deposition, opposing counsel will ask you many questions about a wide range of subjects. If any of their questions address irrelevant or confidential matters, your lawyer can object on the record and advise you to answer or not.
Some of the questions you will be asked include:
- Questions about the accident
- Questions about your injuries
- Questions about your recovery
- Questions about your employment history
- Questions about your personal life
Your own lawyer may also ask you questions at a deposition.
How Can A Lawyer Help During a Deposition?
If you are a party to a lawsuit, it is extremely important to have legal counsel to help you through a deposition. There are several different ways that you could “get in trouble” if you don’t have a lawyer there to help.
Some of the potential pitfalls at a deposition that a lawyer can help you avoid include:
- Being held in contempt of court
- Committing perjury for lying under oath
- Giving too much information
- Being embarrassed by irrelevant personal questions
- Implicating yourself in a crime unknowingly
As you can see, there are a lot of things that could go wrong at a deposition. However, if you prepare for your deposition with your attorney and have them at the deposition with you, it should go smoothly.
A good lawyer can object to questions you may not need to answer and help you prepare for what lies ahead at your deposition. They will be on the lookout for the pitfalls outlined above and jump in to save you when needed!
Contact a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer For Help
If you’ve been in an accident, contact a Miami personal injury lawyer for help. They can help you prove your case through depositions and other forms of discovery.