Jason Stephens | April 17, 2023 | Personal Injury
A deposition is out-of-court, under-oath cross-examination of a hostile witness prior to trial. Giving a deposition is never easy. It is important, however. The opposing party will probably be able to use some of the deposition testimony at trial. Additionally, the quality of your deposition can make the difference between the success and failure of your claim.
Deposition Advice: Advance Preparation
Advance preparation is critical if you want to give an effective deposition. Lack of preparation could result in disaster if you allow the unfamiliarity of the situation to bait you into making false statements. Observe the following tips, plus a healthy amount of common sense.
Learn the Facts of Your Case
You need to be able to answer any legitimate question the attorney asks of you. Unless you are an expert witness, however, a “legitimate” question is one that calls for information that is within your personal knowledge.
Thoroughly Review Any Documents You Might Need
It’s not a good idea to testify about documents with a hazy memory. And the witness stand is not the best place to refresh your memory, especially when the opposing attorney is trying to trap you. Know any relevant documents inside and out.
Rehearse Mock Depositions With Your Attorney
This is the most important part of preparing for a deposition. Your attorney should participate in rehearsals by role-playing the “nightmare attorney.” Your attorney should ask you questions that are at least as difficult to answer as the questions the opposing attorney will ask.
Dress in business attire if you can, never jeans and a T-shirt. This is more important in court than at a deposition, but it is important at a deposition too.
Bring Your Attorney With You to the Deposition
Your attorney can object to inappropriate questions. Even though there won’t be a judge present to rule on the objection, at trial the judge can exclude some or all of your deposition testimony from evidence based on the objection. Your attorney can also advise you when not to answer a question.
How To Give a Great Deposition
Once you arrive at the deposition, it’s showtime. Remember the following rules; in fact, learn them by heart.
Tell the Truth
It might be tempting to lie – but don’t. As painful as the truth may be, it’s probably better than a criminal prosecution for perjury, which is what you could get if you lie under oath. Besides, the truth is much easier to remember than a lie.
Don’t Volunteer Information
Don’t ask any question the opposing attorney never asked you, and don’t fill in gaps in your memory just to keep talking. “I don’t know” and “I can’t remember” are acceptable answers as long as they are true.
Demand Clarification of Questions You Don’t Understand
You might end up giving the opposing attorney a free gift of unrequested information if you fail to understand the question the attorney asks you. Make sure you fully understand any question before you answer it. Watch out, as the attorney may use subtle means to deliberately mislead you.
Don’t Rely on Notes
If you bring notes with you to the deposition and rely on them during your testimony, the opposing attorney can demand to see them.
Don’t Get Rattled
The opposing attorney will try to intimidate you. They will also try to rush you. Never try to hurry through a deposition! Another tactic attorneys use is silence. Don’t start chattering nervously just to end the silence. You are giving the attorney free information that way, and you might be damaging your claim.
Hold Your Temper
People say things they don’t mean when they get angry. This is exactly what the opposing attorney wants you to do. Stay cool, and don’t let the opposing attorney bait you into saying something you will regret later.
Seek Advice From a Personal Injury Lawyer Before Giving a Deposition
Appearing at a deposition is difficult, no matter how sophisticated and knowledgeable you may be. You’re going to need all the help you can get. Seek out a lawyer with experience helping many previous clients succeed in their deposition.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107