Preparing for a Deposition – Part I: The Journey

Meeting your lawyer for the first time

If your car accident case does not settle and you have to file a lawsuit, you will likely need to sit for a deposition. This is an opportunity for the other drivers attorney to ask you questions under oath about the accident, your injuries, medical treatment you received along with damages you incurred.

In Massachusetts, it is customary for the deponent (the person who is asked the questions) to go to the opposing attorneys office for the deposition. Massachusetts residents are not required to travel more than 50 airline miles from their residence, place of employment or place of business (whichever is nearest to the office where the deposition will take place). The term airline miles means a straight line to the depositions location. This is to prevent any dispute over whether one route by road is greater or less than 50 miles. Of course, if there is no direct route by road or public transportation, the actual distance a deponent travels to a deposition may be more than 50 miles.

Understandably, the journey alone can create significant distress for a client. Its 50 airline miles in one direction, meaning a deponent might have to travel a total of 100 miles (or more) to get to their deposition and return home. If this requires travel through a metropolitan area in busy traffic, a deponent could be looking at several hours just to get to the deposition. One way to reduce significant stress is to leave with plenty of time to arrive at the deposition. This will allow time to park, use the restroom, have a last minute meeting with your attorney, etc. If you are running late, it is important to call your attorney and let them know as soon as possible.

Often depositions are scheduled to begin at 10:00am or 2:00pm. Considerate attorneys will budget enough time to conclude a deposition in one day, if possible. If it is anticipated that a deposition may go for more than a day, the parties and their attorneys will often work together to accommodate everyones schedule. Note that, in Federal court a deposition is limited to one day (seven hours total); there is no similar time restriction in Massachusetts.

If you are notified that your deposition is scheduled and you have a conflict with the selected date, you should let your attorney know and propose several other days when you are available. Again, most considerate attorneys will work with the parties to accommodate a first request to reschedule.

Check out Part II, which covers preparing for a deposition with your lawyer, Part III, which covers the participants in a deposition and Part IV, which covers how to handle questioning you may face.

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