Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Called to Depose in a Lawsuit? 10 Tips You Need to Know

September 2008, by Richard Alaniz

It's the type of phone call no fleet manager wants to get. One of your drivers has been involved in an accident that involves someone else. Even if no one is seriously injured, that may not be the end of the bad news. In such cases, a lawsuit often can follow, and you may be called to give a deposition and possibly testify in court.

The deposition is usually the first step in what can be a nerve-wracking journey though the legal system. When deposed, you are brought into a room with attorneys from both sides, and sworn in. A court reporter records every word you say as you are grilled by lawyers. You will be asked to recall minute details regarding an incident that may have happened months ago.

For many fleet managers, this is a new and often unwelcome experience. But with the right preparation, you can sail through the process and help encourage a positive outcome for your company.

If you should ever be deposed, the following are 10 tips to remember.


Tip 1: Become Familiar with the Process

If your experience with the legal system consists of watching reruns of "Law & Order," this is a good time to become familiar with how the process actually works. It's important to understand exactly what a deposition is and the role it plays in lawsuits. A deposition is part of the "discovery process," in which two parties involved in litigation gather information to prepare for a trial.

Typically, a deposition is taken in a conference room, not a courtroom. You take an oath about the accuracy of your testimony. All the proceedings are transcribed by a court stenographer and, if requested by one of the parties, recorded on video.

Your company's attorneys can help educate you about depositions, providing information and guidelines on what to expect throughout the process.

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