A deposition is a witness’s sworn testimony outside of court and is a legal device used to discover and establish facts relevant to a civil case.
You can be subpoenaed to testify in a deposition whether or not you are directly involved in the issue under dispute. A witness who is asked to answer questions during a deposition is called a deponent.
Though depositions take place outside of court and are not a part of the civil trial, as the witness you will be asked to swear to tell the truth.
Your answers can influence whether or not a case proceeds to trial, and you may be called to return as a witness during a trial to answer questions under oath.
If you’re being deposed, there are a few things you should be aware of:
- You must appear — Failing to show up at a deposition when you’ve received a subpoena (a court order) to do so can be considered contempt of court. So can appearing but refusing to swear to tell the truth. A deponent who does not comply with the requirements of a deposition may also be fined or have a default judgment rendered against him.
- You can bring your own attorney — A lawyer can be by your side to advocate for your rights and to object to questions you shouldn’t have to answer. A lawyer can also help you prepare for the deposition.
- You can use notes — Under the pressure of an interrogation, it may be difficult to remember certain details and information worth sharing. To help you stay on track, you can prepare notes ahead of time and have them at your side during the deposition.
- You can be asked questions by both sides — Though one lawyer requests the deposition, opposing counsel has the right to question you as well.
- You must answer questions honestly — You will be under oath during a deposition. If you lie, you could be charged with the crime of perjury. Lying can also destroy your credibility as a witness. When you are asked a question, it’s best to give a simple, true answer without providing any additional information.
As experienced civil litigators, the attorneys at Prim Law Firm, PLLC are well-versed in the dos and don’ts of depositions. We ask pointed questions and follow-ups when overseeing and participating in depositions, and we protect the rights of the deponents we represent.
If you are subpoenaed to give testimony for a personal injury case or another type of lawsuit, we are here to help. Contact our office in Hurricane, West Virginia by calling 304-201-2425 or contacting us online to schedule a free initial consultation.