Depositions: What to Expect and How to Prepare
When you are served with a subpoena, you may be intimidated by the thought of having your deposition taken by an attorney representing the opposing party in your lawsuit. Don’t be scared! Here’s what to expect during depositions, what materials you will need to bring with you, and how to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.
The Basics of Depositions
The deposition process allows parties in a lawsuit to gather information from the other side. It can also serve as a tool during settlement negotiations. Depositions are often taken in preparation for trial, but they can be taken at any point during the litigation process. Typically, deposits take place when one party wants more information about another party’s position on an issue before moving forward with litigation or negotiation.
The person being deposed is typically required to answer all questions thoroughly and truthfully under oath as if they were testifying in court; lying could lead to perjury charges or dismissal of the case against the defendant. So if you’re getting ready for a deposition, here are some things you should know:
What Happens During Depositions?
First, a lawyer will ask you questions about what you know about the subject matter of the suit. You’ll swear an oath before giving testimony and answer each question posed by your lawyer. Your lawyer may ask follow-up questions or make objections based on what you’ve said so far. This is to clarify specific points or establish your credibility. Once you’ve completed answering all the questions, your lawyer might show up to cross-examine you.
Review documents related to the lawsuit to prepare for your deposition. Think about what information you want to share that might help prove your case. Sometimes it’s helpful to write notes beforehand that contain answers to specific topics or lines of questioning. This makes it easier for everyone involved. Make sure not to bring weapons into the courthouse—even something as simple as gum could have you arrested!
When Can a Plaintiff Depose Me?
A plaintiff may want to depose a defendant to learn more about their defense strategy. For example, a plaintiff might want to ask the defendant what evidence they have uncovered. This is called discovery. Depositions usually happen in one day and occur at a law firm, courthouse, or other convenient location for all parties involved.
Usually, two lawyers from opposing sides will conduct the deposition, though sometimes it is just one lawyer. Typically, witnesses can bring an attorney with them if they wish. The lawyers will ask you questions while a court reporter types your responses on a stenotype machine.
In some cases, you might be able to dictate your answers instead of speaking them aloud; this can be helpful if you have trouble remembering things or speak English as a second language. In addition, you do not need to answer every question asked during a deposition. You also do not need to worry about being nervous. Lawyers know that witnesses often feel anxious during depositions.
Still, there’s no reason for stress since it’s not like testifying in court, where the consequences could be severe. It is essential to tell the truth under oath because if you lie and later get caught, you could face severe penalties like fines and imprisonment.
Tips for Preparing
- Always take your deposition seriously.
- Be polite and respectful.
- Know the facts of your case.
- Create a list of potential responses to difficult questions.
- Take notes during the deposition, but wait for your lawyer to ask you any questions before responding.
- Don’t feel distracted or frustrated with your attorney’s questioning style.
- Answer the question as best as you can, even if it’s not what the other party is expecting to hear. Your credibility will only increase if you answer honestly and completely.
- Avoid being overly emotional or dramatic during testimony.
Remember that there are strict rules about what can be asked during a deposition, so prepare beforehand by reviewing these rules with your attorney before taking the stand. Prepare for all possible scenarios by understanding the case well and practicing answering questions before your deposition date. Knowing how to present yourself confidently on the stand without sounding too rehearsed will help strengthen your position.
What Else Can You Do to Prepare?
The most important thing you can do when preparing for depositions is to show up ready and well-prepared. Have someone else (such as a trusted family member) read aloud through your statement beforehand, memorize keywords, and know what to expect. Showing up unprepared is a rookie mistake that should never happen if you want to build an airtight defense. Insufficient preparation may result in legal penalties, fines, and an unfavorable verdict. If you don’t have representation at your deposition, then make sure to bring a trusted family member or friend who has reviewed the statement ahead of time.
Everyone involved in litigation must come prepared for their depositions. Anything less than complete preparation may result in legal penalties and fines, which could lead to an unfavorable verdict. On the other hand, you don’t want to find yourself unprepared because this could be detrimental from every angle. Think back to your high school days and how teachers used to say, “Show up to school on Monday ready”. That same principle applies here—you must put in the work beforehand, do everything you need to do, and pay attention for your deposition date to go smoothly.
The Day of the Deposition
- Lawyers will ask you questions about yourself, your business, and any documents you may have created that relate to the case. You’ll need to have the answers from the top of your mind, so make sure to rest well before the deposition date. And don’t forget to bring a list of all the people involved in this lawsuit, their roles, and anything else that could affect the collection of information.
- Get a good night’s sleep before your deposition date.
- Bring a list of the people involved in the lawsuit, their role(s), and anything else that may influence how information is gathered at your deposition.
- Prepare to answer questions about yourself and your company. Bring any documents you may have created in connection with the case.
- Consider everything that could affect the gathering of information and provide it during the deposition.
A deposition is not something most people ever experience. However, it’s important to know what you’re getting into if you find yourself in that situation. Preparing for your deposition will help you make the best of the situation by being knowledgeable about the process and ready for anything that may arise.
Get advice from an attorney beforehand to know what to expect during the deposition. Prepare to answer questions as asked, and don’t worry about repeating yourself or rephrasing questions. This is standard practice during depositions.
After your deposition, consider speaking with a professional. This way, they can go over any questions or concerns you had during the deposition with you further. It may also be worth contacting them before you take your deposition so that they can review all the necessary paperwork with you in advance, ensuring everything goes smoothly on the day of the deposition. Finally, remember to be polite when taking a deposition—even if the other party does not reciprocate—and remember these tips for preparing for a deposition!
Combs and Brown, LLC offers experienced representation for businesses and individuals who need assistance with the complex process of litigation. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with one of our attorneys!