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Depositions: What, Why, How

A deposition is when you testify under oath during discovery in a lawsuit.  You’ll be asked questions by the attorneys who represent other parties to the lawsuit, and sometimes your attorney will ask you questions to clarify an issue.  Usually depositions take place in a conference room at one of the attorney’s offices, and a court reporter takes down everything that’s said.

Depositions are often the second most stressful part of the lawsuit, after the trial.  You should be able to lessen some of the stress by keeping a few things in mind.  First, you should work with your lawyer so that you feel prepared for the deposition.  In our cases, it usually doesn’t help if clients review large numbers of medical records or other documents – they often just feel more stress and have a hard time recalling the details from the records anyway.  But you should have your lawyer explain to you how he or she expects the deposition to go and to go over the important guidelines.  Second, you should remember that you won’t be alone in the deposition; your attorney will be there with you to make sure you’re being treated fairly.  Third, remember that your job at a deposition is just to listen carefully to the questions and then to tell the truth.  It’s both morally wrong and it hurts a case when witnesses exaggerate or play games when they’re testifying under oath.  Plus, it’s much easier to truthfully recount your memory about what you observed or experienced.

[Posted by Bryan Dawson, June 2, 2014]