Your personal injury or workers’ comp case may or may not end up going to trial, but whether it does or not, you will likely be asked to give a deposition at some point. When plaintiffs are not prepared to give a deposition, they may wind up inadvertently harming their claim by giving too much information or leaving out important facts. Learn more here about how to give a deposition that tells your story and supports your claim.
What Is a Deposition?
If you are new to the legal system, you may be confused about what a deposition is. In a deposition, you will be asked questions by lawyers representing the other side in your claim. If you are suing another driver for a car crash, his lawyer or representatives of his insurance company will conduct the deposition. If you are involved in a disputed workers’ comp claim, lawyers for your employer’s worker’s comp insurance company will likely be the ones asking you the questions. You are under oath when giving a deposition, but there is no judge present. Information gathered during a deposition may or may not be admissible in court if your case goes to trial, but it is best to assume the information you give will be used again at some point.
How to Prepare
If you have hired an attorney to represent you in your claim, he or she will meet with you to prepare you for your deposition. If you are attempting to represent yourself, however, you are more likely to run into trouble with your deposition. The opposing party’s attorney will know you are vulnerable and will attempt to take advantage of you. The first step to a successful deposition is to hire an attorney experienced in the particular area of the law under which you are filing a claim. After that, you will want to do the following:
- Always tell the truth. Remember that you are under oath and it is a felony to lie. Not telling the truth can also damage your case if the truth comes out at trial.
- Listen to the question. While you might be scared and distracted, focus on the question being asked and make sure you understand it before you answer. You can always ask the questioner to repeat a question.
- Don't guess. If you do not know the answer to a question, don’t guess or speculate. Simply say that you do not know the answer.
- Confer with your lawyer. At any time during the deposition, you can speak with your attorney privately regarding the question and your answer. Do not hesitate to exercise this right.
- Don't volunteer information. Do not give more information than is necessary to answer the question. Stop talking once you have answered the question.
- Don’t explain. Answer each question as briefly as possible and don’t feel you have to explain your answers with additional details.
- Remain calm and polite. Never argue or lose your temper with the attorney asking the questions. Don’t let him push you into reacting angrily or aggressively.
- Bring copies of requested documents. You may have been instructed to produce documents at your deposition. If so, you should bring three copies of the documents. One copy will be provided to opposing counsel, one copy kept by you, and one copy kept by your attorney. You should also bring the originals to prove the accuracy of the copies.
- Admit to your mistakes. If at any time during the deposition you realize you have misspoken, correct your mistake as soon as you recognize it. You should tell either opposing counsel or your own attorney about your mistake at the first opportunity.
Don’t Forget the Most Important Step
You can think you are totally prepared for your deposition and then be eaten alive by opposing counsel if you do not have an attorney on your side. Don’t make this mistake. Call our office to schedule a free review of your case before you agree to a deposition. We want to help the law work for you—not against you.