Deposition is probably the most important event that happens in any personal injury case. It might be more important than the testimony at trial. It is scary, but a very simple event. If you are a plaintiff in a personal injury case, feel free to give your personal injury attorney all the necessary information.
What Is a Deposition?
Deposition is nothing more than question and answer session, where the opposition counsel asks you questions to learn about your case. A court reporter will be there, taking down everything that is said with a stenography machine. Your personal injury lawyer will also be there with you during the deposition. There is nothing to worry about as long as you tell the truth.
The Purpose of a Deposition
Many victims and witnesses take a deposition as an opportunity to tell their story. They treat the event as if it is their day in court. However, deposition is only a question and answer session by the opposition counsel. The opposing lawyer is not a decider of facts: that is for the jury and/or the judge. The opposing personal injury attorney only wants to learn more information about your case to later use it against you.
The opposing side takes your deposition with these goals in mind:
- The opposing counsel wants to find out the facts you have regarding the case in the lawsuits. In other words, they are concerned about your story at the time of deposition and what it will be at the trial
- They hope to catch in a lie and show that during the trial that you are not a truthful person and as a result, your testimony should not be believed at all, especially the most important ones
- They want to pin you down to a specific story so you only tell the same information at the trial and know in advance that your story is going to be.
How to Answer Deposition Questions
Stop and listen to the question
The information you give at a deposition may be used at trial. So, do not hurt your case with your answers simply because you did not understand the question. Take your time, listen to the question, and take a minute to understand before you give an answer. If you fail to understand the question for the first time, don’t hesitate to ask the opposing counsel to explain his/her question or repeat it. You should not give information that is pertinent to the case, but you should answer the questions properly.
Don’t Let the Opposing Counsel Put Words in Your Mouth
If you have answered a number of questions, the attorney may summarize your testimony and ask you if what he/she says is not substantially correct. The attorney may include some facts which are incorrect and then try to get you to say the whole summary is substantially correct. Don’t fall to this cheap tactic. Whenever, the opposing counsel summarizes your testimony, this is always a sign of danger.
Don be worried or nervous, it can easily ramble. Instead, try to keep your answers short and sweet. Be precise with your descriptions instead of giving vague general answers.
If you realize that in the previous question you gave an incorrect answer, you should immediately interrupt the deposition and ask to correct your previous answer. Although, there is room to correct deposition later, it is better if you correct it during the process.
Pitfalls to avoid in a deposition
- Don’t give opinions
- Never state facts you don’t know
- Never attempt to explain or justify your answer
- Only give information you readily have at hand
- Don’t allow the opposing counsel to get you excited or angry
- Never joke in a deposition
- Tell only the truth
- Don’t volunteer any fact not requested by a question
- After the deposition is over, don’t chat with the opponents or their attorney.
If you need help with a deposition in Staten Island for your personal injury case, please consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.