If you're involved in a personal-injury lawsuit, your lawyer will probably want you to give a deposition at some point to describe the incident that caused your injury. A deposition allows the lawyers on the other side to get an idea of what you would say at trial. A deposition also gives your lawyers a chance to evaluate your performance and get an idea of how you'd appear to a judge and jury. For both sides, this is important information that can inform settlement negotiations. If you seem credible and have a solid story, their lawyers will be eager to settle and avoid trial, and your lawyer will have more leverage to push for a better settlement. That means that a good deposition can be important to the outcome of your case. It's easy to be nervous with so much riding on your deposition. These simple tips will help you do your best with it.
Tell the Truth
Of course you already know that you should always tell the truth in court. The same rules apply when you're giving a deposition – you'll be under oath to tell the truth, just the way you would be in the witness stand.
Not all lies are intentional. A deposition can feel like a high-pressure situation, and if you can't remember or don't know the answer to a question, you may be tempted in the moment to say something, anything, just to be able to give an answer. However, if you do this, and your answer is inaccurate, then you'll have a lie on the record, and you can expect that the lawyers for the other side will realize this.
Not only can lying during a deposition hurt your case, but it's also illegal. Technically, lying under oath during a deposition is perjury. It's very rare for a person to be charged and prosecuted with perjury for lying during a civil case, but it's not impossible. Do yourself a favor and don't risk it; if you don't remember something or just don't know the answer, it's okay to say "I don't know."
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Remember that you're being judged not just on the words that you say but also on your credibility. This can mean a lot of things, but it boils down to coming across as a likeable and honest person during the deposition. That means that you need to stay calm and avoid getting angry or annoyed. Becoming emotional during a deposition can happen, and that's okay, but avoid being combative or sarcastic.
Both your lawyer and the other side's lawyers will refer back to the deposition later, and if you do end up going to trial, it may come up there. That means that you want to make sure that there's an accurate record of what is said. There will be a court reporter in the room transcribing the proceedings. Remember that it's hard to accurately record what's being said when two people are talking at once, and you can help ensure the transcript is accurate by making sure that you wait for the end of a question before you begin speaking and that you don't try to speak over anyone else.
Practice Makes Perfect
A good attorney is going to offer to prepare and practice your deposition with you before the real thing. Take them up on the offer! This is a good chance to look over the documents that you're likely to be asked about during the deposition – that way, when they're handed to you at the real deposition, you'll already know what you're looking at and why it matters.
Your attorney will also ask you questions that the other side's attorney will ask on the day of the deposition. This is important so that you're not caught by surprise. Knowing what kinds of questions are coming can help you remain calm and give you a chance to think out your answers in advance.
Don't be afraid to ask your attorney any questions that you have before the deposition, and remember that it's always okay to stop and ask to speak to your lawyer during the deposition if you need to. If you prepare carefully and follow your attorney's advice, your deposition should go smoothly. Talk to an attorney such as Charles Aaron PLC for more information.