Once your injury claim reaches the lawsuit phase, it is likely that you will attend a deposition. The deposition is requested by the defense, and it is part of the discovery phase.
Think of depositions as spoken testimony, which may be recorded or videotaped. Everything you say in the deposition can be used at trial, and the defense will ask you a series of questions. For most cases, depositions are used by the defense to assess the evidence and determine if they should settle or continue to trial. It is also the defense’s opportunity to “size you up” to see what kind of witness you may be in front of a jury (likeable, unlikeable, etc.)
The process can be daunting for accident victims. After all, you are seated in a conference room or office and attorneys you do not know are there asking you detailed questions. The most important thing to remember when you are in a deposition is that you are not alone. Your attorney will be there, and if your attorney prepares you, you have nothing to worry about.
10 Rules for Plaintiffs During a Deposition
It is normal for your nerves to kick in, but to ensure you do not hurt your case, take these ten rules with you to your deposition.
- Be Respectful – You might not like the defense attorney, but you still need to be respectful. Being rude or showing your distaste blatantly can make you look bad – especially if the deposition is recorded. This is an example of when the defense attorney may see that you are easily agitated. If the lawyer knows that you are easily agitated, that lawyer will be more likely to put you in front of a jury because he/she knows that your bad side can be brought out.
- Be Prepared to Answer Intimate Questions – When you make claims for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or loss of enjoyment of life, the defense will try to disprove these claims. Therefore, they will ask intimate details about your injuries, including how they affect your intimate relations, your responsibilities, who takes care of you and how, and so forth. While some questions are embarrassing, you must answer and do so truthfully.
- Always Answer Honestly – Now is not the time to exaggerate or omit details. Anything you say in a deposition could appear later in court. In other words, the jury may hear what you say played back during trial – should your case get that far. Therefore, always be honest. If you cannot recall the right answer, tell the attorney you do not know. Never guess at your answers.
- Leave the Temper at Home – You are angry and frustrated with your injuries, but those frustrations must stay at home. Never argue or lose your temper during the deposition. When you are mad, you may not think clearly when giving your answers.
- Confirm before Answering – If you do not fully understand the question, do not be afraid to ask for clarification before you answer. Otherwise, you may give the wrong information – which could be used against you later.
- Do Not Volunteer Anything – Never volunteer more information than necessary. Answer the attorney’s question being as succinct as possible and do not elaborate. The other attorney can request further elaboration if necessary.
- Get Sleep and Eat a Good Meal – You might be nervous, but do what you can to get a good night’s rest before your deposition. Coming into this meeting exhausted makes it hard to recall information, but also makes it easier for the other attorney to get you riled up and confused. Also, make sure you eat a hearty breakfast so that you are not hungry in the middle of the meeting. It is also a good idea to dress nicely so you make a good appearance.
- Stick to the Facts – Only stick to what you know.
- Be Honest about Activities – If asked, you must be truthful about any activities or exercises you have done since your injury. Attorneys are asking these questions to catch you in a lie; therefore, do not omit activities.
- Take Your Time – You can take your time with your answers, and if you need a break, ask your attorney to request one.
Speak with an Injury Attorney
The personal injury lawsuit process can be confusing, but with the right attorney the process is much easier. If you have been involved in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, contact Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. at 215-771-0430 (cell) or toll-free at 800-465-8795 or in the office at 215-987-3550. You can also contact him online with your questions.