What Happens During a Mesothelioma Deposition?

During a mesothelioma deposition, a plaintiff provides testimony under oath about their history of asbestos exposure and their medical diagnosis.

Depositions are held privately and can be recorded in a lawyer’s office or the plaintiff’s home. Depositions often are videotaped so that they may be more easily used as evidence in the event the claim goes to trial, although most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court without the need for a trial.

Depositions also are provided by people with knowledge of the plaintiff’s case. In mesothelioma lawsuits, these other people may be family members, friends or former co-workers who can validate that the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos. Doctors may also serve as witnesses to validate the mesothelioma diagnosis.

Preparing to Give a Mesothelioma Deposition

Your mesothelioma lawyer will guide you and help you prepare for the deposition. Your attorney will explain in advance the types of questions that opposing counsel likely will ask about your work history and your exposure to asbestos.

Guidelines for Giving a Good Deposition

Review and Prepare

Be sure to review all relevant information so you feel prepared to answer any question. Your lawyer will provide you with the information you need to review prior to the deposition.

Arrive Well-Rested

Getting a good night’s rest will help you avoid fatigue during the deposition.


Take all the time you need to answer a question. It’s OK to take time between questions to ease your mind. Ask for a question to be repeated or asked another way if you don’t understand it.

Keep It Simple

Answer questions directly, and don’t offer additional information. If you think an answer might benefit from further context, keep in mind that your attorney generally can ask you additional questions later to clear up potential areas of confusion.

Don’t Guess

If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t feel pressured to guess or agree to something you’re unsure of.

Stay Calm and Composed

Maintain a professional composure. Do not argue over a question and avoid humor and sarcasm.

It’s OK to Feel Nervous

It is completely normal to feel nervous during a deposition. Your nerves may quickly settle once you answer a few questions.

An experienced attorney is aware that it’s completely normal for plaintiffs to feel nervous about appearing at a deposition. They will make sure you feel comfortable with the process.

Depositions and the Lawsuit Process

Depositions occur during the discovery phase of the lawsuit process, which comes after several legal steps that include:

  1. Preparation: Your attorney prepares the case by gathering information about your history of asbestos exposure to determine which companies are liable for your illness and where to file your claim.
  2. Filing: Your lawyer will file a written complaint with an appropriate court to begin the legal process within the statute of limitations. They will file a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim if you are filing on behalf of a loved one who has died of mesothelioma. There may be more than one jurisdiction where a claim could be filed.
  3. Responses: Each defendant listed in the lawsuit receives a copy of the complaint. They typically have 30 days to respond. Your attorney will review all defendant responses.
  4. Discovery: Lawyers on both sides gather information about the complaint, including asking questions, producing evidence and holding depositions. It may take several months to complete the discovery process.
  5. Settlement: Before a trial is set to begin, defendants may offer to settle the case with a compensation offer. Your attorney will guide you through the mesothelioma settlement process.
  6. Trial: Going to trial is rare in mesothelioma lawsuits. The overwhelming majority are settled out of court. But, in some cases, a trial may be necessary.

In some cases, depositions may involve answering questions from multiple defendants. In California, courts ruled in July 2021 that mesothelioma plaintiffs can’t be subjected to lengthy depositions no matter how many defendants are listed in the claim.

What Happens After Giving a Mesothelioma Deposition?

After giving a deposition, the discovery phase continues with research and interrogatories (a form of written questions requiring sworn answers) from both sides. Your lawyer will handle all aspects of the discovery phase, including gathering evidence to support your claim and responding to interrogatories from defendants.

Once your attorney prepares your answers, a copy of the questions and answers will usually be sent to you by your mesothelioma law firm for signing. You may have to sign a statement that all answers are true and correct.

Because damaging information often arises in plaintiff and witness depositions, many defendants may choose to settle before going to trial.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement After Giving a Deposition?

Most mesothelioma patients have medical bills to pay, and they wonder how long it takes to get a settlement after giving a deposition.

It could take several months or longer to reach a settlement after giving a deposition. Your lawyer can provide guidance on how long it might take to settle your specific case.

Common Asbestos Deposition Questions

Your attorney will ask questions about your medical history, work history, the people you worked with and the financial loss you’ve endured because of mesothelioma.

  • What were your job responsibilities with the defendant company?
  • Which asbestos products did you use throughout your career?
  • Did you know the products you worked with were dangerous?
  • What were the working conditions? Was the facility well ventilated?
  • Did your employer provide protective safety gear?

An important part of your deposition will involve answering questions about identifying people who can support your claim. These people may include friends, family, former co-workers, and the doctors who diagnosed your mesothelioma.

Getting familiar with these kinds of questions will help you feel prepared and ready for the deposition. Be honest with your attorney about any concerns you have so they can help you address them. With the right support, your deposition will go smoothly, and your attorney will handle the rest.

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