Do You Have to Give A Deposition in a Civil Case?

If you are involved in a civil case, then you will know how difficult and nerve-wracking the whole process can be. You may be wondering what your legal obligations are, what exactly you will be expected to do, and what legal terms mean.

If you are expected to give a deposition, you may be wondering what that entails, what it means and whether you have to give a deposition for a civil case or not. We are here to answer all of your questions.

What is a deposition?

In the United States of America, a deposition is the taking of a sworn statement or testimony of a witness, outside of court for later use in court or in law purposes. 

Depositions are most commonly used for litigation purposes and will be conducted by a lawyer without a judge present, outside of the courtroom. This way, a witness can give their oral account of an incident that may later be used in court. 

A deposition is similar to that of a testimony, however it takes place before a trial and without a judge present. It is similar to a hearing, but depositions usually take place at the office of a court reporter or in the law firm involved within the case. 

A deposition will be attended by the person deposed, the court reporter, the attorney and any other parties involved. The deposition involves the questioning of the deposed, and will most likely be recorded for later use in court.

The deposed party will be asked a series of questions by a lawyer, and will be instructed to answer questions aloud, for evidence purposes. The deposed party, or witness can then be cross examined by another attorney to gather information that may be used in a later trial or court proceedings.

What is the difference between a deposition and a hearing?

Although there may be some similarities between a deposition and a hearing, the two are very different, and serve different purposes.

The point of a deposition is to provide a better understanding of the claim, and for the witness to give a statement or answer a series of questions without a judge present. 

This is different to a hearing as it will take place in a hearing room and will strive to resolve the disputed issue or case. The hearing is then conducted in front of a judge, with the opportunity to present witnesses, cross examine and present evidence.

The point of a hearing is to come to a conclusion, however, that is not to say that a case cannot be closed after a deposition.

What is a civil case? 

A civil case can be a wide variety of different court cases for a number of legal issues.

Civil cases will most likely involve Tort claims or things such as negligence, personal injuries, battery, malpractice, fraud, defamation and many other examples. 

Civil cases are usually disputes between two private parties, such as negligent actions of one party against another. 

Do you have to give a deposition in a civil case?

You will have to give a deposition if you are involved in a civil case. In most cases, you will be subpoenaed or ordered to give a deposition in order to settle a civil case and provide details of the case or event. 

If you have been subpoenaed to give a deposition or ordered by a court, then you will have to attend the deposition, or you may be found in contempt of court, which can lead to worse consequences. To settle a civil case, you may also be forced to give a deposition!

However, if you have not been subpoenaed to give a deposition, and were simply requested to by another party, then you do not have to go. By not going to a deposition that has not been ordered, will not have any legal consequences, however it does not reflect well on your case. 

In this sense, it may be unwise to refuse to give a deposition, as it gives a negative impression of you, your view of the case, and any information that you are not willing to give. 

What to do if you are deposed

If you are in a deposition, then this will typically take place during the discovery phase of the case. When this happens, the opposing lawyer will ask you several questions pertaining to the details of the incident or the case. 

If you are the deponent being questioned, then there are a few things that you should know. Although the deposition will not take place in front of a judge or in a courtroom, they are a legal requirement, and you will have to go under oath to answer the questions in order to uncover the truth of the matter.

You must answer truthfully, and try not to guess answers. The purpose of a deposition is to gain the truth, so making assumptions is not helpful as you are not providing accurate information.

You must only share information that you know fully to be true, if you do not know the answer to a question, then simply state so, do not guess. 

The best thing to do in a deposition is to just answer the questions. You do not have to give long winded answers by giving additional details and information, only answer the question at hand.

By giving additional information and answering questions with long answers, you may go off topic and manage to give away more details than required by the question. Try to remain clear and concise with your answers. If your answer was not enough, then the lawyer will simply ask you further questions. 

Try to avoid giving statements with absolute words such as always or never, as you may later be caught in a trap where a particular absolute statement you said is untrue.

For example if you said I always do ‘x’, and you are found to have not done it one time, then your trustworthiness may be in doubt.

Remember not to use profanity, and dress appropriately for the deposition. Remember that if you have been asked or subpoenaed to a deposition, then you will have to do so, or you may be found in contempt of court, or you can be forced to. 


Thank you for visiting. This website is for informational purposes only. None of the information provided is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute, legal advice, and none of the information necessarily reflects the opinions of Misty Rock Capital LLC dba or anyone associated, employed or affiliated with Misty Rock Capital LLC dba