02 May Why Do Depositions Get Canceled? What You Need to Know
What you need to know about canceled depositions
You agonized over it. Prepared and worried for days, weeks, or more about what’s going to happen at this legal thing. Took time off work. Found and paid for a babysitter. Meticulously cleared your schedule for this particular time slot on this specific day. You did everything you were supposed to do and those lawyers went and canceled your deposition. It’s beyond frustrating. Why would they have done it and what is going to happen next? Don’t worry. Deposition Academy has all the answers you need to know about, well, depositions.
Depositions rarely get canceled. When they do, it’s usually because a deposition isn’t needed anymore. For example, a settlement has already been reached between the parties involved so making you come in is a waste of time and money. What is much more likely to happen is that it will be rescheduled or postponed.
Depositions get postponed for many reasons:
- There’s a scheduling conflict with the many different people involved.
- Something tragic happens.
- Some piece of evidence, documentation, or records hasn’t arrived in time and they need to wait for it/them.
- The lawyers need more time to prepare because something urgent came up.
Whatever the reason, it’s super inconvenient. So, what will happen next and should you do anything about it? That’s what I’m going to answer in this article. By this point, you are probably aware of what a deposition is and you have a game plan ready. If not, Deposition Academy has great articles about what a deposition is and how you should act during a deposition.
Long story short, a deposition is a formal, legal meeting held during the discovery stage before a case goes to trial to record an eye-witness account of events. This eye-witness account, or statement, is used to push for a settlement, to find relevant evidence, or to find a witness to testify in court if a case goes to trial. Deposition Academy also has articles about how to best answer questions and how to prepare as a plaintiff or defendant. Still, it is best to work with your lawyer to prepare for your deposition. Also, if you don’t have a lawyer by now, maybe you could use this time to consult with one.
Why do depositions get canceled or postponed?
As stated above, there are only a few reasons why a deposition is canceled entirely. One reason would be that a settlement has been reached and they no longer need your statement. Another, more macabre, reason is that someone has died, gotten seriously injured, or fallen gravely ill. If you can not physically make it to the deposition, call your lawyer and ask for it to be canceled. Or, if you can’t call your lawyer personally, make sure someone else knows to do it for you. Failure to appear may result in fines (also known as sanctions in this instance) or worse. There should always be a reason given for a cancellation or postponement.
A deposition can be postponed or rescheduled for many more reasons:
- Scheduling conflicts. Sometimes there is a large gap of time between scheduling and when the deposition takes place. During that time, one or more of the people involved could have scheduling changes. Remember, there are a lot of people involved in the deposition to schedule around: The lawyers for both sides, the court reporter, the notary public, etc.
- There was a more urgent case that the lawyer(s) needed to focus on. Maybe that case has more life or death consequences than yours. Or maybe it is a more high profile case. It’s not the most satisfactory reason, but it does happen.
- There is an unforeseen emergency for one of the parties involved and it needs to be rescheduled. Remember, a deposition is stipulated to a time frame of seven hours in one day. It is possible to reschedule later that day or later that month.
- Lastly, it could be that there are things that the lawyer needs for your deposition that haven’t arrived yet. This could be documents, records, or evidence that is needed either for your statement or for questioning.
In essence, life happens, even for lawyers. Unfortunately, schedules aren’t set in stone, and surprises happen to everyone. The best thing you can do is to keep in touch with your lawyer about any changes to your schedule. Make sure you protect your own interests first and foremost.
What can you do next?
It’s obvious that you would be frustrated and inconvenienced, but what can you do? Here are 5 tips for what you can do after you get the call.
- Find out whether it was canceled or postponed, and why. This will give you an idea of what’s going to happen next so you can be more prepared. At its core a deposition is a mental battle, so stay focused.
- Reschedule for whenever the lawyers need you to. Having it on paper that you were cooperative and flexible can go a long way in building an amicable relationship between you and the lawyers.
- Avoid social media. The last thing you need is an angry rant used as evidence against your testimony. After all, how does the saying go? “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law?”
- Be productive. You can use this time to further prepare for your testimony. Talk to your lawyer. Practice your answers. Review your timeline. Whatever you need to do, this is the time to do it.
- Remember to live your life. Don’t dwell on this inconvenience. Go to work, pursue a hobby, or hang out with friends and family. Whatever you do, don’t let the waiting get you down.
What should you expect to happen after a cancellation?
Talk to your lawyer about your next moves. They will have all the information you need about your particular situation. Also, they can make sure you are treated fairly.
There are only so many times that a deposition can be postponed. Usually, after two or three times the court will get involved. You should expect a postponed deposition to be rescheduled fairly quickly. There is a lot of money tied up in a deposition, so any hiccups are usually taken care of very promptly.
Speaking of money, if you aren’t given at least an hour’s notice of a cancellation you could be entitled to monetary compensation for your time. Talk to your lawyer about this or any other legal ramifications of the cancellation if they haven’t talked to you about it already. They would know best what constitutes “reasonable notice” in your locality and any legal steps you can take.
Depositions rarely get permanently canceled. They usually get canceled because something tragic happened or because a case was settled out of court before your deposition. What’s more likely to happen is that it will be postponed and rescheduled. It’s important to remember that life goes on for everyone involved. Sometimes the timing is unfortunate and the circumstances are frustrating. Just remember to keep your cool, stay focused, and keep an open line of communication with your lawyer. Whether you’re working with a personal injury lawyer, estate planning lawyer, or any other legal professional, they’ll be able to guide you though the situation.
What if I don’t have any involvement in the case? You could ask for the deposition to be canceled. In order to do that, you would need to make a strong argument to the lawyer that requested your deposition to cancel it. It is entirely up to that lawyer whether or not your statement would spend more time and money than it’s worth.
The lawyers keep postponing my deposition and it’s affecting my job or life negatively. What can I do? Talk to your lawyer. Maybe you can build a case for reparations and time lost. Or, maybe you can move to have the deposition canceled entirely with the court. Either way, talk to your lawyer.
I don’t want to get a lawyer for personal reasons, but I also don’t want to get taken advantage of. What should I do? Deposition Academy is by no means a substitute for legal advice. Get a lawyer. It is better to have representative counsel at a deposition or other legal proceeding than it is to misspeak and cause yourself legal and financial trouble.