What is a Deposition?
In most personal injury lawsuits, there is a fact-finding stage called “discovery.” The purpose of discovery is for each side to discover what facts the other side will rely on so there are no surprises at trial. For example, if you have been injured in a car accident, the defendant will want to know the extent of your injuries by looking at medical records and asking you questions.
One tool for finding out information is a deposition, during which a person answers questions under oath. Depositions are usually held in attorney’s offices, and you will either be videotaped answering questions, or a court reporter will take down questions and answers. As a person bringing a lawsuit (the plaintiff), you will probably have to answer questions in a deposition.
Tricky Questions You Might be Asked
In addition to finding out basic information, a deposition also lets the other side “lock down” your story. Anything you say in a deposition could come back to haunt you later at trial, so you will want to prepare extensively.
For example, the other side’s lawyer might ask you:
“How far away was the vehicle when you noticed it?” Here, they are asking for a specific distance, which is probably impossible for you to accurately measure.
“How much pain do you feel on a daily basis on a scale of 1 to 10?” It is rare that you will be feeling a 10, especially since you should be receiving medication.
“You said earlier that you did not immediately feel pain” or “As I think you said earlier, you hit the brakes before you saw my client.” These questions often rely on misquoting you. Listen carefully.
“You did not feel any pain right away, did you?” Questions like this one provide an answer. It is very easy to simply agree without really listening.
In short, the lawyer is looking for exaggerations which they can use to discredit you, or is trying to get you to agree to things you know are not true.
How to Prepare for a Deposition
Because depositions are so important, your lawyer should spend some time getting you to feel comfortable. To that end, you might do a practice deposition, or your lawyer will give you sample questions you can expect to be asked about. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your lawyer before the day of the depositions.
Many depositions run on forever, so you should prepare by doing the following:
- Get a good night’s sleep. You want to be well-rested.
- Eat breakfast that morning. You don’t want to start feeling hungry or lightheaded while answering questions.
- Dress comfortably. You should not show up in your pajamas, but you do not need to wear a suit, either.
Remember, your lawyer will be right by your side in the deposition, so tell him if you need to stop the questioning to take a break.
Tips for Being an Effective Deponent
During the deposition, remember the following tips:
Avoid guessing. If you do not know the answer, say, “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember.”
Only answer the question asked and do not volunteer information.
Clarify an answer if you realize you have misspoken. It is important to be accurate.
Listen closely to the question and ask the lawyer to rephrase it if you do not understand.
In many situations, your lawyer will raise an objection which will be recorded. However, you will still be asked to give an answer. If the lawyer tries to use the information elicited later, your lawyer can renew the objection and a judge might decide your answer cannot be admitted into evidence.
Prepare by Contacting Bundza & Rodriguez Today
Lawsuits are nerve-wracking, but at Bundza & Rodriguez you will always be in good hands. Our Daytona Beach personal injury lawyers have handled hundreds of depositions and understand all of the tricks lawyers use. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and find out how we can help you.