In many personal injury cases, a number of depositions are required. Every party to the case may be deposed along with witnesses, experts, law enforcement officers, financial professionals, doctors and so on. Each deposition will entail several costs, many of which could be substantial.
A deposition is a formal, out of court meeting, where an individual answers an attorney’s questions under oath. The questions and answers are transcribed by a court reporter and can then be used in court or as part of the “Discovery” phase of a case.
Depositions entail a number of costs. Every deposition requires a court reporter, who must be paid by the party taking the deposition. Witnesses must be compensated for their time and mileage. Under the federal rule 28 USC §1821, a witness must be compensated $40 per day for each day of attendance at a deposition. Similarly in New Mexico, a subpoenaed witness must be paid the full fee ($95) for one day’s expenses under NMSA 1978 § 10-8-4 (A). Expert witnesses usually charge an hourly rate for depositions which can range anywhere from $200 to $500 to $1000 and up depending on the type of expert.
Even though many depositions occur in an attorney’s office or in the office of the court reporter, some depositions may require the rental of a facility for the deposition. A transcript of the deposition must also be paid for. The average cost of a transcript depends on the length of a deposition, but can range from $100 to thousands of dollars for lengthy depositions.
While technology has made it easier and more convenient to take depositions, it has also made it more expensive. Video depositions, which are used more and more, are often very expensive. Most video depositions have a one-hour minimum ranging from $175 to $300, and a subsequent hourly rate between $75 and $150. A copy of the deposition and the transcript are also quite costly.
When a person to be deposed lives out of town or out of state, their travel costs and lodging must also be compensated. Under the 28 USC §1821, witnesses attending a deposition must also be compensated for travel and expenses. Under the federal rule, when a witness travels by common carrier (i.e. airfare), he or she will be compensated for the most economical rate reasonably available. If a witness uses their own vehicle to travel, he or she will be given a travel allowance equal to the one used by government employees for official travel. A witness will also be compensated for any tolls, ferries, taxi fares, and parking fees. A similar rule applies in New Mexico where witnesses are paid for mileage and travel under § 10-8-4 (D).
Both the federal rule and New Mexico laws allow for a subsistence allowance to any witness who requires an overnight stay. The subsistence allowance for a witness is the same as the one given to government employees for official travel. Expert witnesses will have their own, more expensive travel rates.
Finally, witnesses may be located all over the country requiring the lawyers to go to them for depositions. These out of state depositions can be very expensive requiring travel and hotels along with all the other costs mentioned above.
In short, deposition costs can add up quickly. It is important that clients discuss these costs with their personal injury attorney. These costs should be taken into consideration during settlement discussions since in the end it is the client who pays these costs from the judgment or settlement.