Injury Law Glossary

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is a live interview with a witness provided under oath. It’s part of the discovery process before a trial begins.

Depositions usually don’t take place in the courtroom; instead, they’re a pre-trial interview that typically happens in an attorney’s office. A court reporter will be present at the deposition, and he or she will swear in the witness being deposed and create a written transcript of the deposition. Some depositions are videotaped as well.

Typically, you and any witnesses for your side will be deposed by the opposing counsel, and your attorney will depose the person or organization on the other side of the lawsuit. But there’s no reason to worry because you won’t be alone in the deposition process. If you’re being deposed, your lawyer will be on hand to provide you with support.

Depositions can be used in a couple of different ways. The information provided in them lets both sides of the case know what the witness will say on the stand. In contrast to television law shows, “surprise witnesses” are uncommon and may be objected to because their testimony was not included in the discovery process. Instead, it is usually the case that the attorneys on both sides know what a witness will say in court.

Another way depositions can be used is to “preserve testimony.” If a witness is ill and may not be available during the trial, depositions can sometimes be used to provide witness testimony. It’s important to know, though, that a deposition isn’t a replacement for courtroom testimony unless there is a very serious reason the witness cannot be in court.

There’s a possibility that you will be asked questions that you’re uncomfortable with during a deposition. Remember that you are under oath and subject to perjury if you do not tell the truth. However, your lawyer will be on hand to ensure that you’re treated fairly. Answer the questions asked as simply as possible and do not provide information that wasn’t asked for.

Your attorney may work with you before the deposition to help you prepare for the questions that might be asked and the procedural issues that will need to be followed.

The short answer is that they last until they’re done, but that’s not especially useful. They can be over in under an hour or take an entire day (or even longer). Your attorney will better be able to prepare you for how long the deposition will take, but you should expect it to take at least one to four hours.

Depositions are a standard part of getting ready for a trial. Your attorney will assist in preparing you for your deposition, so you’re as prepared as possible.