When you filed your personal injury lawsuit, you never expected the process to be easy. The party responsible for your injuries denied liability, the insurance company dragged its heels and you felt dismissed and ignored.
It’s no surprise that you’re heading to court. But first you have to get through the deposition.
What’s a deposition?
Depositions are part of the discovery process in a civil suit. Typically, they’re held in a conference room or office, and recorded either on videotape or by a court reporter. Recently, they are more frequently occuring by Zoom or a similar digital platform.
During a deposition, the opposing side’s attorney will seek to learn more about the case — and you — by asking you questions about what happened before, during and after the event in which you were injured.
While this isn’t a trial and there’s no judge or jury present, make no mistake: You are being watched very closely and are under oath. How you handle yourself at a deposition can influence whether the other side ultimately decides to settle or continue to fight.
What should you remember during a deposition?
There are basic rules for handling yourself in a deposition:
- Listen to each question carefully. Never interrupt the attorney to answer prematurely. If you don’t understand the question, don’t be afraid to say so.
- Pause before you answer. This prevents you from speaking before you gather your thoughts, and it gives your attorney time to object to the question if they need to.
- Always tell the truth. Even if the most you can say is “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember,” that’s better than guessing.
- Answer only the question that was asked. Do not add any details. Do not volunteer anything outside of the scope of the question.
- Do not lose your cool. Sometimes the opposing counsel will deliberately try to rattle a litigant just to see if they will say something useful or fall apart on the witness stand.
Personal injury lawsuits can be frustrating to go through, but if you remember these tips and take your attorney’s advice, you should do fine.