What Happens in a Deposition in Texas?

If you have been involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you may be required to participate in a deposition in Texas. This is a crucial stage of the litigation process, as it allows both parties to a lawsuit to gather information and testimony under oath prior to a trial. In a deposition, both parties will ask questions and get answers about issues raised in the case. Depositions can be a nerve-racking experience, so it’s important to understand what to expect and how to prepare.

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is a formal proceeding in which a witness or party to a lawsuit is questioned under oath by the opposing side’s attorneys. The answers and testimony given during a deposition are recorded by a court reporter, and can be used as evidence in court, if necessary. A deposition in Texas typically takes place in a law office, and both parties are typically present along with the court reporter and any necessary interpreters.

Two Types of Depositions

During a deposition in Texas, parties to a civil lawsuit (e.g., plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses) provide sworn out-of-court testimony. There are two types of depositions in Texas:

  • Depositions upon oral examination:  Oral examinations during depositions are the prevailing form of deposition hearings. During this proceeding, an “examiner” – typically an attorney – poses inquiries to a witness or another party involved in the case. The questions are not disclosed beforehand, and a court reporter documents the response to each query.
  • Depositions upon written questions (DWQs):  During these hearings, the witness is provided with written questions beforehand. The legal team is given a specific timeframe to assess each inquiry. Once any objections are resolved, the witness is required to respond to the questions in the presence of an examiner and court reporter.

As with testimonies given in a courtroom, witnesses in depositions must provide testimony under oath. Upon receiving a notice for a deposition, individuals are required to appear at the scheduled hearing. They must respond truthfully and to the best of their ability to each question posed, and follow the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure for the testimonies to be admissible at trial.

Attorney speaking with a woman and man who are parties to a deposition in Texas

What Happens During a Deposition in Texas?

During a deposition, both parties’ attorneys will have the opportunity to ask questions of the witness. The questions can cover any relevant topics related to the case. The purpose of a deposition is to gather information that may be useful in trial, and to get a sense of how the witness may testify if the case goes to trial.

Two of the primary issues attorneys will explore during a deposition in Texas include:

  1. Believability:  The attorney deposing you will want to assess whether they think a jury will believe your side of the story. Thus, it is important for you to review the facts of your case, so you are familiar with them.
  2. Likeability:  An attorney deposing you will try to gauge how you will be perceived by a jury. Are you charismatic? Do you appear level-headed? Are you someone a juror could relate to, and see themselves in your shoes?

How Long Do Depositions Last?

The length of a deposition in Texas can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses who need to be deposed, and the scope of the questions asked. In personal injury cases, depositions typically last anywhere from 2 to 8 hours. In some instances, however, depositions can last even longer, particularly if the case is complicated and there are multiple witnesses involved.

The length of a deposition is not necessarily an indication of the strength or weakness of a case. Rather, the duration is based on the scope of questions that need to be asked and answered by both parties. The goal is to get a full understanding of the facts surrounding the case in question. While it’s not uncommon for depositions to last for many hours, it’s important for clients to be prepared for the possibility of needing to take several breaks throughout the day.

Personal injury lawyers sitting at a table during a deposition in Texas

How Should I Prepare for a Deposition?

If you are being deposed, it is important to prepare carefully to ensure that you provide accurate and complete answers. Your attorney will likely work with you to help you understand what to expect and to prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked. Although being involved in a lawsuit can be contentious, it is important to meet with your attorney prior to the deposition to prepare and listen to their guidance.

It’s important to review any relevant documents or evidence in advance, and to take time to reflect on your experiences and memories related to the case. For example, if you your are a plaintiff in an auto accident, you should review the police report, your medical records, and any witness testimony. During the deposition itself, it’s important to listen carefully to each question and to take your time in answering.

What are Some Tips for Handling a Deposition?

Depositions can be nerve-racking, but there are some tips to help you stay calm and focused.

  1. Be Prepared:  Work with your attorney to ensure you are fully prepared for the deposition. Your attorney will walk you through the process, explain what you can expect, and what kinds of questions you might be asked. They will also help you review any relevant documents or information and answer any questions you might have before the deposition.
  2. Dress Appropriately and Be On Time:  Dress in professional attire that is comfortable and reflects your personal style. Being late can be disruptive and unprofessional, so make sure you allocate enough travel time to arrive early.
  3. Stay Calm and in Control:  Keep your emotions in check, avoid any outbursts, and stay focused on the task at hand. Remember that the deposition is an opportunity for you to tell your story and present your case.
  4. Be Honest and Confident:  If you try to avoid or dance around a question, it can ultimately hurt your case in the long run. Avoid guessing or speculating in your answers. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so. The truth can be difficult at times, but it’s much better to be honest and forthright than get caught in a lie.
  5. Take Your Time:  It’s important to take your time when answering a question during the deposition. Listen carefully to the question and take a moment to think before you respond. This will help ensure that you fully understand what is being asked of you and will help you give a well-thought-out and accurate answer.
  6. Take Breaks:  Take breaks when you need them. You can ask for a break at any time during the deposition to collect your thoughts or speak with your attorney.

What Happens After a Deposition?

After the deposition is complete, the court reporter will transcribe the testimony and create a written record. Both parties will receive copies of the transcript, and may use it as they prepare for trial.

Depending on the outcome of the deposition, the parties may choose to enter into settlement negotiations or proceed to trial. Regardless of what happens next, it’s important to continue working closely with your attorney to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Why Would Someone Be Deposed?

There are several reasons why someone may be deposed. For example, in a personal injury case someone may be deposed:

  • As a witness:  If you have witnessed an accident, you may be called to give a deposition. This is done to gather information about the accident from an unbiased third party.
  • As a defendant:  If you are a defendant in a personal injury case, you may be deposed in order to determine if your actions or the actions of your company were negligent or caused harm to the plaintiff.
  • As a plaintiff:  If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you may be deposed in order to provide more detail about the accident, the injuries sustained, and the impact the injuries have had on your life. This information is used to determine the amount of damages you may be entitled to.

Contact Thompson Law if You Need Help With a Deposition in Texas

Depositions can be complex and stressful, but with the right preparation our attorneys can help you can handle the process with ease. Our personal injury attorneys can handle the scheduling, questions, and preparation so you can focus on healing from your injuries.

Remember to work closely with your personal injury lawyer, be honest, take your time and think before answering, and remain calm and professional throughout the deposition. By following these tips, you can ensure that your deposition in Texas goes smoothly, paving the way for a positive outcome for your personal injury case.

Our Texas personal injury lawyers stand ready to represent you and protect your right to full and fair compensation. Contact us today for a FREE CONSULTATION to learn how Thompson Law can help.

No Win No Fee sign - Personal Injury Attorneys for a Deposition in Texas

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