Mar 13, 2024

What Happens During a Civil Deposition?

What Happens During a Civil Deposition - Morgan and Morgan

The discovery process – a phase before an injury trial begins – involves the gathering of all available real, demonstrative, documentative, testimonial, and digital evidence related to the situation at hand. The process of collecting official testimonial evidence is called a deposition hearing, which is a live interview between lawyers and witnesses to guide legal strategy and preserve their testimony for future use during trial.

Civil depositions seem intimidating until you learn that your attorney stands at your side the entire way. At Morgan and Morgan, our team is well-versed in depositions across all areas of personal injury law. We’re here to help with your injury claim, settlement negotiations, deposition, trial, and onwards, acting as a powerful legal ally that simplifies the process and increases the odds of a favorable outcome. 

You pay nothing upfront to take the first step with America’s largest personal injury firm at your side. Complete our free, no-risk case evaluation to get started.


What Is a Deposition?

Attorneys, relevant witnesses, and a court reporter will meet at a location outside the courtroom, usually an attorney’s office. There, the attorney asks the witness(es) questions, who answer under oath. The court reporter documents what is said, and that transcript becomes the official testimony for the trial.

If you provide testimony in a deposition, you, your attorney, and other witnesses will meet with the opposing party’s legal team. They’re legally required to treat you fairly, although there may be questions that make you uncomfortable. If they overstep, your attorney will intervene and advocate on your behalf. 

Still, remember that the truth can often be uncomfortable. Depositions require honest and truthful testimony to properly serve their purpose in the legal process.


Can You Refuse a Deposition?

The short answer is – it depends. If your testimony is vital to the success of a case, then you may be held in contempt of court by not following the court order or face other legal consequences. 

This serious charge is more common in civil cases, although it can occur in civil suits. Each state has different laws governing what qualifies as contempt of court. For more information on your unique situation, contact our team.


Why Are Depositions Needed?

Depositions establish a formal record of witness testimony. This is used in two primary ways:

  • Guiding Legal Action – Attorneys base their next steps around the information they have available. Witness testimony can display whether the situation is in their favor or requires additional attention. For example, a lawyer may learn from an employee that a negligent employer kept a logbook of expenses, which could be important in proving their client's case.
  • Preserving Evidence – Eyewitness testimony is fleeting. The human mind can only hold so much information, and what someone remembers about a situation is quickly forgotten. Holding a formal deposition establishes an evergreen record of each witness’s testimony to look back on whenever necessary, both preserving the information and expanding its accessibility. 

Depositions are necessary when a witness possesses valuable information related to the case or a subject matter expert needs to weigh in on a situation, but they’re not required. Some cases may leverage different evidence to prove their legal burden, depending on their unique circumstances.


How Long Are Depositions?

On average, an individual’s deposition lasts 2-3 hours, while the entire deposition process ranges from days to weeks. Your attorney should understand more about the general timeline of your deposition, but there’s always a possibility that something can delay the process.

The following factors affect the length of a civil deposition:

  • Complexity of the case
  • Setting of the deposition
  • Questions posed during the deposition
  • Number of witnesses
  • Proficiency of legal teams


Contact Morgan and Morgan

If you’ve been injured, the simplicity of the path ahead depends on the legal team that represents you. Not only do you need your attorney to conduct a properly thorough deposition with relevant witnesses for the sake of your claim, but you’ll also need someone at your side for your turn in the deposition seat. Proper preparation wins cases, after all, and there’s no better proactive legal team than the attorneys at Morgan and Morgan.

Our team is here to help. Complete our free, no-obligation case evaluation to get started.