A deposition occurs in litigation. Witnesses, named parties (plaintiffs and defendants), experts (doctors, engineers, people with special knowledge) are all likely to have their depositions taken prior to a mediation, arbitration or trial in a lawsuit. The deposition is in effect an interrogation. That is frightening. The opposing party’s attorney will have a chance to ask you anything that is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence. That is a vast possibility of questions for the non-lawyer, anything “reasonably calculated”.
As an attorney, I have an obligation to provide my client the tools necessary to understand and succeed in deposition against a seasoned law expert, opposing counsel. We call this preparing the witness.
An attorney’s client should never go into a deposition with fears they don’t know how to handle. Client’s should clearly understand how to answer the types of questions lawyers will ask. Depositions are not customary environments where typical conversation occurs. Attorneys talk funny, and they may ask you questions in a way you are unfamiliar. An attorney that properly prepares their client may have a client that is still afraid of being deposed but the client will also have enough tools and knowledge to understand the issues, questions, language, and dialogue and how to ask clarifying questions of the attorney interrogating them.
When an attorney fails to properly prepare their client (a process that in our practice can take no less than five hours and sometimes days) is an attorney who is failing their client and ultimately the merits of the case may suffer. The preparation for deposition should begin days in advance of the client’s deposition to allow the client to ask questions about the process and their participation. The days between meeting with the client and the actual deposition taking place give the client time to digest and develop questions that their attorney can then help them with prior to the day of the deposition.
The more difficult the case, the severity of injuries involved, the complexity of the law and or the facts, will often require more preparation time with the client and never less than 3-5 hours. In bike and motorcycle crash cases the facts can often be difficult and are often highly disputed. Anytime serious injuries are involved and the client has been hurt physically and especially emotionally, be prepared to spend hours preparing with your attorney for your upcoming deposition.
Don’t go in unprepared. Don’t survive the crash to get killed in deposition or at trial. Preparation is key.