How to Prepare for a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case
If you are in the midst of a personal injury case, you have probably heard a lot about what to expect and likely know that, at some point, you will be expected to give a personal injury deposition. The purpose of this step is to give the opposing side a chance to learn certain factual information, requiring witnesses or the plaintiff to make statements under oath and in front of a court reporter. The information gleaned from a deposition can be used in court later on to assist in questioning a witness.
During your deposition, it is important to remain calm, since nervousness will cause you to answer questions too quickly, which creates a higher likelihood that you might say something in error. Below are some of the mistakes you should remember to avoid:
- Knee-jerk responses: At the start of your deposition, you will be asked some basic identifying questions, such as your name, address, and date of birth. Whizzing past the answers to these questions might prompt you to answer the more complex questions that follow with the same urgency. To avoid providing knee-jerk responses, try to answer at an even pace that gives you a chance to ponder your answers rather than potentially providing inaccurate ones.
- Assuming: This is likely your first deposition, but for the attorney questioning you, it could potentially be his or her hundredth time doing this and will likely use language you are unfamiliar with. Instead of guessing at the attorney’s meaning, or assuming you know what certain language means, say that you do not understand. This will force the attorney to restate the question in more natural language.
- Exaggerating: When you take the stand, it might feel a lot like you are on stage. Everyone is raptly waiting for what you have to say, making your testimony feel a lot like a performance. It is important to remember to stick to the facts when responding to questions, however. To evoke an overly emotional response, the opposing side’s attorney might ask questions such as, “How much pain are you in?’ The temptation to exaggerate will be great, but doing so will make you appear untrustworthy.
- Approximating: A mistake that is almost just as bad as exaggerating is trying to guess the answers to questions during a deposition. If you are asked questions regarding the specifics of an event and you do not know the answer or cannot remember, say exactly that, even if you are prompted to estimate or approximate an answer.
- Believing the attorney: The attorney questioning you will collect documents that will assist him or her in this process, so if you are asked a factual question that can be supported by a document, such as your medical records, ask to see it before responding. Remember, in most cases, the attorney taking your deposition already knows the answers to the questions he or she is asking you, but simply wants to find out how you will respond.
Additionally, it would be wise to know the general rules of a deposition, so you can better navigate it:
- Once again, your deposition will be taken under oath, so always tell the truth.
- Only answer the question that is asked and avoid rambling on. A deposition is not about proving your case, so you do not need to explain yourself at this point.
- Always be polite. It will show the attorney that you would make a great impression to a jury.
- It is perfectly acceptable to say that you do not know the answer to a question. Generally, depositions are not taken until well after an incident has occurred, so if it is not unusual for a person to be unable to recall the answers to some of the questions asked.
- If you are asked a question you do not understand, ask the attorney to clarify.
- In casual conversations, you might answer respond with sounds and nods, but during a deposition, a court reporter will take down everything that is said, so you need to give a verbal response.
- The deposition can potentially last hours or even span over a course of several days, so if you need a break, simply ask for one.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Boston
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another party, you have a right to pursue compensation for your injuries. At the Law Office of Steven R. Whitman LLC, our Boston personal injury team has over 5 decades of collective experience.
We believe you should take this time to focus on your recovery, which is why you will not owe us any legal fees unless we win your case.
Contact us today at (617) 870-3347 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team.