We do our very best to obtain the best settlement possible for our clients. However, sometimes the insurance company is unreasonable and we are forced to file a lawsuit. Once the case is in litigation the other side is entitled to take a statement under oath called a deposition. This is sworn testimony that can be used at trial to impeach (discredit or contradict) our client’s testimony. As a result, it is critical that we properly prepare our client for their deposition. To that end, here are some suggestions we often give our clients to prepare them for their deposition testimony.
What You Need To Know About Providing A Deposition In Your Personal Injury Case
Tell The Truth.
The Court reporter will place you under oath prior to the deposition. It is imperative that you tell the truth. If you lie, most attorneys will be able to discover this. Various arguments can be made when the facts are not good for the case -- nothing can rehabilitate a liar.
Listen Carefully To The Question And Only Answer The Question Asked.
The deposition is not the time to give your side of the story or volunteer information. Limit your response to the specific question. Don’t help the opposing attorney. Make him do his job. Many attorneys will be very nice and lull you into getting into a conversation with them. Don’t fall into this trap.
Don’t Talk Over The Attorney Asking Questions.
In normal conversation we cut people off when we think we know what they are going to say. This is a nightmare for the court reporter as she can only take down one person speaking at a time. Wait to respond to the question until the attorney has finished asking the question. You may even want to think a second before responding. This will give the other attorneys time to make an objection to the question if necessary.
Don’t Speculate Or Guess.
We often feel compelled to come up with an answer even if we are unsure of our response. Most depositions are taken many months or even years after the underlying incident or occurrence. It is perfectly acceptable to say, “I don’t remember,” or “I’m not sure.” However, do not use this to be evasive. Your side may need that information at trial as well and you are stuck with your answer. If you didn’t see or hear something, don’t make an assumption – simply say, “I don’t know.”
Give Your Best Testimony At The Deposition.
Even though you are allowed to change your answers in your transcript after the deposition, this is not a good trial strategy. If you make a substantive change to your testimony (one that could impact the trial) this will impact your credibility.
Don’t Argue With The Opposing Attorney.
One of the most important aspects of the deposition for the opposing attorney is the opportunity to size you up. How you appear as a witness is almost as important as what you say. If you are combative or argumentative not only will you not make a good witness, you oftentimes give up valuable information in the process.
Have You Been Injured In An Accident?
If you've been hurt in an accident due to someone else's negligence you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our Henderson office directly at 702.405.6000 to schedule your free consultation.