Deposition by Written Questions: What to Ask and How to Get Answers

Apr 11 2016 | posted by Law & Order

If your case requires data, records, or information from a third party — someone who’s not directly involved in your suit — then you’ll likely need to use a strategy called deposition by written questions, or DWQ.

Now a DWQ isn’t like a regular deposition. You’re not going to sit down with the third party and talk to them face-to-face. You won’t ask them questions in person, and you won’t get audio or video of the answers. Instead, you’ll write down the questions you need answered, and the party, on their own time, will write their answers down and send them back to you.

It’s a pretty simple process, but it’s not one just anybody in the office can handle. In fact, it’s only the people qualified to serve subpoenas and citations — like judges, court clerks, court reporters, and notaries — who can serve a deposition by written questions. Your best bet is to let a litigation support company handle the task, as they can not only serve the DWQ, but they can also get it notarized, bind it, label it, and deliver it to you or the courthouse as needed.

What to Ask and How to Do it

When it comes to questioning, a deposition by written questions is just like any other deposition you’d handle. You can ask the third party for any information you’d like: records, medical diagnoses, employment history, etc. It just has to be written down, filed, and sent to the person directly (it’s usually a records custodian or HR representative in these cases.)

The main catch is that the party must be notified first, before the questions are served at their doorstep. DWQ notifications must be sent at least 20 days before the questions are sent, and should detail the information and data that will be requested. If the receiving party has an attorney, this notification must be sent to them as well.

Once notification has been sent, you can draft your DWQ, enlist someone to serve it, and send it off no earlier than 20 days later. The recipient then has 30 days to respond and send the questions back to you.

A few other notes:

·  If another party in your case wants to examine the information that arises from your DWQ, their attorney can request access.

·  The other attorney can also submit cross-examination questions to the third party if they would like information that was not requested in your original DWQ.

·  Finally, attorneys have the option to also ask redirect questions, which must be served within 14 days of cross-examination, and after that, they can ask recross questions, which should be served within seven days of the redirect questions.

It really depends on the nature of your suit, as well as the information you're requesting, how complicated your deposition by written questions will be. While some DWQs have only the initial question-and-answer service, others include the whole package: cross-examination questions, redirect questions, and recross questions.

Needless to say, it can be a time-consuming and confusing process in many cases, and it’s especially important you follow the letter of the law, or else you risk that crucial information your case may need. It’s never wise to go about a DWQ without proper knowledge of the process, nor is it a good idea to pass the task off to an inexperienced paralegal or associate.

Make Sure Your DWQ Is Flawless

Want to make sure your deposition by written questions goes off without a hitch? Contact the legal experts at LORR. We’ve handled thousands of DWQs over the years, and we know how to get the job done quickly, properly, and efficiently. Call us today to learn more.