News coverage, television shows, and movies often focus on the uses of deposition in lawsuits. Deposition and the use of witness testimony given during a deposition is very different than what you would find in a court. In fact, depositions don't place in the courtroom at all. Instead, they often take place at an attorney's office. California state law demands that a deposition take place within 75 miles of a residence of the person being deposed or within 150 miles of the county in which the lawsuit is taking place.
What is a deposition in Los Angeles?
A deposition is when an attorney asks the witness or person being deposed a series of questions that relate to the facts or events of the case. The entire deposition is recorded by a court reported, which means every word the lawyer, the deposed, or anyone else who may be in the room will be viewed on a later transcript.
A deposition can also be recorded on video or audio. A deposition often gives your lawyer or the opponent's attorney greater latitude in the questions they can ask than what they are allowed to ask in a courtroom. There is no determined time for a deposition. They can take ten minutes or ten days.
What is the purpose of a deposition?
A deposition is part of the discovery process of a lawsuit. It is when the attorneys on either side attempt to prove or disprove a case through a formal investigation. The pre-trial access helps the attorneys formulate their respective strategies through the facts and potential evidence they find.
A deposition is necessary when working with factual issues. When only looking at legal arguments, depositions are generally unnecessary, as they don't require witness testimony or evidence. In general, deposition is important for painting and completing any of the lingering puzzles in question related to the lawsuit.
The ultimate purpose for a deposition is to formally record questions and answers related to the case under oath. It helps an attorney establish what a witness or person in connection to the lawsuit knows while also preserving their testimony for later use.
The 5 Rules for Any Deposition
A deposition can be intimidating but it shouldn't be. The purpose of the deposition is for the attorneys to essentially establish as a base line for what you know, what you remember, and what they can use in their favor. They will ask a series of questions to either prove or disprove their client's case. The following information are key rules for a successful deposition.
You should have an attorney present for the limited time of the deposition, even if you are not a part of the lawsuit. An experienced Los Angeles attorney will understand the limits of the deposition and your role in the process. They will be able to prepare you for the questions, the expected topics, and the appropriate responses in order to protect you, the case, and the overall process. This will also help you navigate any difficult questions you may face.
- Be honest
Honesty is truly the best policy during the entire lawsuit process but within a deposition, honesty is invaluable. You are under oath. Providing false testimony can result in penalties for perjury. In addition, any lies, no matter how small, can ruin your credibility and help the opposition.
- Answer only what you know
Your responses should only be limited to what you know, what you saw, what you heard, or what you did. You should never assume, conjecture, or attempt to analyze. The deposition is subject to your memory of the events and given situation. You don't have to guess and you should never speculate. It is fine not to know and you are encouraged to say that you do not know or understand if that is, in fact, the case.
- Stay calm
Being questions under oath can feel stressful and tense. It isn't every day you are called into a deposition. It is understandable to feel the pressure of the situation but as long as you remain calm and tell the truth, you will be fine. Do not raise your voice. Do not try to argue with the attorney. Getting defensive or apologetic only feeds the tension in the room and can fuel a stressful situation.
Again, it is fine if you do not remember all the details of a stressful event or the proper series of a fast-paced situation. Remain calm and remain honest.
- Don't be bullied
Again, a deposition can be stressful but that does not mean that you have feel the pressure. An examiner may interrupt you or get pushy. If you are interrupted, allow the examiner to complete their question before you finish your response. Do your best to stay calm. Do not feel rushed into answering a question and stay honest. You do not have to move to a new topic if you are not done answering the previous question. You control what you say and when.
Will I have to give a deposition?
Whether you have to give a deposition or not will depend on the details of your case. With a personal injury case, you may settle at any time. If the insurance company offers you a fair settlement, you may not need a deposition at all. A sexual assault lawsuit moving to trial will most likely require your deposition in order to establish the facts and evidence of the case.
Let us know how we can help.
If you or someone you love will be part of a deposition in Southern California and need support, contact I.Donald Weissman and Associates for a free consultation. It is not only important to have someone in your corner but necessary to ensure you get the results you deserve.