What is a Deposition?
Our clients often ask us, what is a deposition? This is a good question, and our Lafayette personal injury lawyers have written this article to give you both the simple, short answer, as well as a longer and more detailed answer. If after reading this article you still have questions about what a deposition is, or other questions about a deposition, we encourage you to give us a call at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation with one of our experienced and friendly Boulder personal injury attorneys. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, we would be happy to speak with you about depositions in general as well as any other topic related to your accident or injury.The Short Answer
Simply put, a deposition is when you are required to verbally answer questions under oath about your case. The side requesting the deposition has to put you on notice of its intent to take your deposition, a court reporter administers an oath to the deponent (the person getting his or her deposition taken), and away you go.The Longer Answer to the Question, “What is a Deposition?”
Many of our clients wonder, when does a deposition happen? An experienced Lafayette personal injury attorney will tell you that depositions only happen as part of the discovery process after a lawsuit has been filed. Because the vast majority of cases are resolved pre-litigation, or without filing a lawsuit, depositions do not happen in most cases. Again, except in very limited circumstances (like when a key witness is likely to die before any lawsuit can be filed), depositions only happen after a lawsuit has been filed.
Generally speaking, after a lawsuit is filed the parties to the lawsuit can conduct discovery according to the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure (CRCP). Discovery is a fancy way of saying “investigation” into the issues that are in dispute in a case. An experienced Lafayette personal injury lawyer will have investigated your case as much as possible before filing suit, but there are certain tools – like taking depositions – that can be used only after a lawsuit has been filed and your case is governed by the Rules of Civil Procedure. Depositions in Colorado are allowed by CRCP 30 – Depositions Upon Oral Examination.
As part of discovery, the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure allow each party to require the other side to answer three general types of written questions: interrogatories, requests for admission of facts, and for production of documents. These written questions are often referred to as written discovery, and are usually the first step of formal discovery that happens after a lawsuit is filed. Once these questions have been answered, the parties usually request the depositions of the other parties involved in the case. The basis for the deposition is usually what has been learned throughout the case, including documents that were produced as part of the lawsuit, as well as the answers to the written discovery. As experienced Lafayette personal injury lawyers, we believe a deposition is necessary to “drill down” into the facts and circumstances of the accident and to more fully understand how the accident happened and what duties were violated.
Because we represent the injured victim in an accident, or “plaintiff,” our Lafayette personal injury lawyers will request the deposition of the person or business who we think was negligent or caused the accident. This person is generally known as the “defendant.” On the other hand, the defendant will also request your deposition – the deposition of the injured victim. While depositions are almost always taken of the parties in a lawsuit, deposition can also be taken of other witnesses such as experts. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, our personal injury attorneys put in substantial time preparing to take the defendant’s deposition, and by the same token, we spend significant time with our clients making sure you are prepared for your deposition, including understanding the questions you are likely to be asked, and the overall deposition experience. After over 60 years of combined experience, our Lafayette personal injury lawyers understand that getting your deposition can be a nerve-wracking process, and we pride ourselves on being by your side before, during, and after the deposition process.
Custom dictates that depositions usually happen at the office of the lawyer for the person who is being deposed. For example, our clients are usually deposed at our office, and we usually take the defendant’s deposition at the defendant’s lawyer’s office. Sometimes, especially in highly contentious cases, a judge will order that the deposition take place in the courtroom so objections can be ruled on immediately. Although generally governed by custom and professional courtesy, there is no hard and fast rule for where the deposition takes place. For example, when there is a unique situation that makes it inconvenient to hold the deposition at a lawyer’s office, often times the lawyers will agree on a mutually acceptable location that makes the most sense for everyone involved.
Depositions should always be “on the record.” This means that the deposition will be transcribed by a certified court reporter so that what the parties say in the deposition can be accurately captured for later use at trial, if necessary. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, in addition to having the deposition transcribed by a court reporter, we will usually have the defendant’s deposition video recorded so that we can play back at trial the most compelling answers given during the deposition.
Once the deposition begins, an experienced Lafayette personal injury attorney will ask questions of the defendant that are pertinent to the strategy of the case. For example, we will ask detailed questions about how the accident occurred, how it could have been avoided, and other related topics. On the other side of the coin, the defendant’s lawyer will ask you questions about how the accident happened, the nature of your injuries, and similar questions.
Our Boulder deposition attorneys are always physically present by your side during the deposition and you will often hear us object to some of the questions being asked to you. Making objections is important to preserve the record, because in many cases if no objection is made, the objection is deemed waived at trial. Most of the time even if we object, you must still answer the question. Colorado law allows attorneys to instruct their clients not to answer questions only in limited circumstances such as violation of the attorney-client privilege, the work product privilege, or when the opposing lawyer is being harassing or argumentative with you, in which case it may be appropriate to terminate the deposition and raise the issue with the court.
If you have been in an accident and have questions about the deposition process, our Lafayette personal injury attorneys invite you to reach out to us today at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation. We can help you understand depositions, and we can listen to questions you may have about your case.