While television shows, articles and news segments may focus on the trial, jury and judge in a legal case or proceeding, in reality there are a host of other proceedings, documents and filings that make up the bulk of any potential litigation. One of the most important pre-trial events is the deposition of participants, witnesses or experts that will ultimately testify in the case.
A deposition is pre-trial testimony, taken under oath, typically at an attorney’s office or neutral conference room space. The deposition can help flush out the facts of the case and the testimony given at a deposition will often be used again at trial. Testimony given in a deposition also can commit you to a position later on at trial. Sometimes, statements made during a deposition can help prompt settlement discussions. This is especially true when deposition testimony is especially harmful or helpful to one side of the lawsuit.
While not an actual trial, depositions are legal proceedings and participants often ask whether they are in need of legal representation. Here we break down some of the common reasons you may want to consider hiring a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer Brookhaven GA trusts, to represent you for your deposition testimony.
Participant in Legal Proceeding or Lawsuit
If you’re involved in a legal claim or lawsuit, either as plaintiff or defendant, a deposition will often be a necessary part of the pre-trial discovery process. While you are entitled to represent yourself in court, litigants should carefully consider whether they’d benefit from having a lawyer representing their interests at all stages of trial. Deposition testimony can and often is used at trial and inconsistencies in statements due to misunderstood questions, nervousness or lack of preparation, can have a negative impact on your outcome.
Preparation for Trial
Deposition testimony will occur in a similar manner as testimony being provided on the stand to a judge or jury. Opposing counsel typically has much more leeway during a deposition regarding what they can and cannot ask. Having an attorney by your side to help walk you through questions and advise you on which questions you should not answer or are not obligated to answer can help hone your statements which will eventually be given at trial. If you are a party to a lawsuit, make sure your lawyer prepares you for your deposition.
Deposition Testimony as a Witness
Another instance where you may consider hiring a lawyer to represent your interests is if you’ve been called to provide deposition testimony as a witness. Even if you aren’t directly involved in the underlying litigation, depositions potentially have legal ramifications that could affect you, your employer or a friend or family member. At a deposition, you will be required to testify under oath and any factual misstatements could be held against you at a later date. In addition, many witnesses at depositions will feel more confident with their own lawyer by their side when being asked questions by attorneys representing the other parties to the matter.
Employer May Provide Legal Counsel
If you’ve been called to give testimony at a deposition as a witness as part of your employment, you may be able to request your employer pay the bills for your own, separate, legal representation. In many cases it is in your employer’s best interest to have you provide factual, relevant deposition testimony possible and they will reimburse you or directly pay for the legal costs associated with hiring an attorney.
What you discuss with your lawyer is privileged and protected by what is called the “attorney-client privilege”. Another lawyer cannot ask you what you and your lawyer talked about in your preparation.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Butler Tobin for their insight into hiring an attorney for a deposition.