During litigation, both sides will send questions and requests for documents, which will require your assistance, as you are most knowledgeable about the facts of the case. Additionally, both sides will request depositions of the parties and the various witnesses. In addition to helping us prepare for the depositions, you also have the option of being present at every deposition. The most important deposition will, of course, be your own.
A deposition is a process by which the other parties’ attorneys ask questions, while a court reporter documents the process. Besides the employer’s attorney, there may be additional attorneys present who may also ask questions. These other attorneys may be representing the insurance company or the corporation that owns or oversees your employment location. However, there is usually one attorney for the defense who will ask the bulk of the questions, with perhaps other attorneys asking some additional follow up questions. We will, of course, be present to represent and assist you.
Your deposition will likely take place at opposing counsel’s office several months after the complaint is filed. The time and date will be agreed upon by all the attorneys and parties, and we will inform you of it in advance. In addition to speaking with you and discussing your case and all pertinent documents, statements, and witnesses, we will also meet with you prior to the deposition to prepare you for the questions that you may expect.
Generally, the deposition is an informal process, where you, your attorney, the opposing parties’ attorney, and the court reporter will likely be seated around a conference room table. You will be asked to swear an oath to tell the truth, the same as you would in court. The court reporter will write down everything that is said by everyone in the room and will prepare a book-type transcript, which you will then have to review two or three weeks after the deposition to make sure that all your testimony was accurately written down. If any corrections need to be made, they may be made at that time. You will then sign the deposition transcript.
The transcript will be your testimony about all the facts of the case, so it should be your best recollection of the events surrounding the incident(s). Since quite some time will have passed by the time your deposition takes place, it is perfectly reasonable for you to not remember every single fact or date exactly, so you may respond by stating that your do not recall certain information. However, if you are able to do so, you are required to estimate dates, times, or other information to the best of your ability. Because a court reporter will be writing down what every person says, it is important to allow each person to finish speaking before you begin speaking. It is also important that your answers be verbal, instead of a nod or a shake of the head, as the reporter cannot write that down.
There will be certain questions that may be asked to which your attorney may have a legal objection. Thus, after the question is asked by opposing counsel, take a breath before answering to allow your attorney to state an objection. You are required to answer every question that is asked, unless your attorney instructs you not to answer the question. If you do not understand a question, you may always ask the attorney to explain or rephrase the question. Similarly, if you do not know the answer to a question, you may simply state that you do not know or do not remember.
In preparation for your deposition, we will go over all the pertinent documents that you have provided to us, as well as any documents we may have received from other parties and/or witnesses. It is very important that you provide us with accurate and truthful information about all the facts of your case, even if the facts may not seem to be good for your case. We must always be prepared, if the other parties ask about facts that may not reflect positively on your case. It is also important that you only speak about your case to your attorneys, as opposing counsel may question you about any other conversations you may have had about your case.
The questions that will be asked will obviously depend on the specific facts of your case, but the following is a list of the types of questions that may be asked:
- Date and place of birth
- Chronology of all places you have lived
- Employment history, including all past jobs you have held
- Educational history, starting from high school
- All litigation/lawsuits in which you have been involved
- Any administrative actions in which you have been involved
- Your medical history
- Your mental health history
- Details regarding your employment that is the subject of your claims – e.g. start date, terms of employment, description of position/responsibilities, reasons for leaving, termination date, circumstances of termination, work history, complaints made by you or against you, any negative performance reports, salary history, all discussions with employer and/or co-workers, vacations, overtime, all circumstances surrounding your claims
- Current employment, including job title and responsibilities/tasks
- Reasons you decided to sue your employer
The preceding list is not exhaustive, but you should know that when filing a lawsuit or a complaint with the Labor Board, the opposing parties are entitled to a wide variety of seemingly personal information. Thus, you should be prepared to discuss the above topics and more, as they will be relevant to your claims. There are certain question and topics that are nonetheless off limits, and we will object and advise you not to answer those questions.
As you can see, your deposition will be one of the most important aspects of you claim, so we will do our best to fully prepare you to anticipate every question. In order to do that, we will need your help. Well in advance of the deposition, we will need you to provide to us – (1) written statement of your position; (2) contact information for anyone else involved; (3) photocopies of any pertinent documents; and (4) detailed information regarding everything you know so far .. including any facts unfavorable to your claim.
We look forward to help you with your claim. Call me, Jeff Schwartz, San Clemente employment disputes lawyer, at 888-730-0529.