In almost every personal injury, wrongful death, and civil lawsuit, the other side (the defense attorney) will ask you questions under oath. This is a deposition. As the person who was injured or suffered losses, you are the best witness to explain what happened.
You will answer questions under oath, with a court reporter and videographer present. Depositions can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. It may seem overwhelming, but remember, your attorney will always be there to protect you from any harassing or badgering questions. There will be a transcript of the deposition, and your testimony becomes evidence in the case. Depositions can be used as testimony at trial.
For many people, this will be the first time they have answered questions under oath. It is common to be nervous before your deposition. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you prepare.
Tip #1: Tell the truth!
The most important thing during a deposition is that you TELL THE TRUTH.
During the deposition, the lawyer for the defendant (the person or entity being sued) will ask you questions about the accident or incident over which you are suing. During this time, the defense attorney is trying to get the facts of the case. They are also trying to determine your credibility and the way a jury is likely to view you.
Again, this may seem overwhelming, but your attorney will be there by your side.
Tip #2: Stay calm.
The defense attorney is going to try to catch you off guard, make you seem nervous, and generally try to get you to ruin your case. Their job is to make your case go away so their clients don’t have to compensate you for your losses.
Stay calm during your deposition. We help our clients prepare for depositions. This includes tips for staying calm. If you have anxiety, PTSD, or get nervous talking about certain topics, let us know in advance. We will work with you to help make sure you remain calm and know when to step in if you need a break.
Tip #3: Answer the question, and only the question.
Keep your answers short and to the point. If they ask you how old you are, tell them your age. That’s it. Don’t elaborate, talk about being born, or anything. Do not volunteer additional information. Make the defense attorney ask you a follow-up question.
The reason you need to answer only the question that was asked is that the defense attorney will be looking for any shred of information they can use against you. They will be going through the transcript with a fine-tooth comb. Long answers that cover more than what was asked of you can ruin your case.
We will work with you so that you are comfortable only providing the information the defense attorney asked for. If we don’t think you should answer the question for whatever reason, we will speak up. Our job in the deposition is to protect your claim.
Tip #4: Dress up.
Remember, your deposition will probably be filmed and shown to a jury. We recommend all our clients dress up. Blazer, tie, suits, button-down shirts, dresses, blouses, and other professional attire are appropriate for a deposition. Pretend you’re in court in front of a judge.
Keep makeup, accessories, jewelry, and hair simple. We will help you figure out what to wear if you want help. We have taken tens of thousands of depositions and have been in front of many juries. We know what will make you look professional while also making you feel comfortable.
Bottom line – we will make sure you are ready for your deposition. Also, we want you to ask for our help and guidance. Your deposition is very important to your case, so we will make sure you’re prepared.
For more information about what happens in a personal injury lawsuit, click here.