As a Sacramento Brain Injury Attorney, as well as a Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, I am frequently asked by both clients and non-clients alike about what to expect if asked to give a deposition.
How to Prepare for a Deposition
Your deposition, properly given, can go a long way in assisting your attorney in handling your case, either by way of settling or at the trial. What you do at the deposition can help or hurt you, depending upon your attitude, truthfulness and appearance.
WHAT IS A DEPOSITION
A deposition is the taking of testimony under oath. It is just like trial testimony, except that it is not taken in court and there is no judge or jury present. Your testimony at a deposition becomes a permanent part of the record of your case. Depositions are taken in order to find out what witnesses know, and to establish as many facts as possible before trial.
Don’t worry, your attorney will undoubtedly meet with you ahead of time to go over these rules as well as the facts of your case.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A DEPOSITION?
You will be asked questions about yourself and the facts in your case by the attorney or attorneys for the other parties in your case, or in some cases, by your own attorney. The questions and your answers will be taken down by an official court reporter. After the deposition, the reporter will transcribe the testimony to a written transcript and it will become a permanent
record in the case. If your attorney tells you that your deposition will be video taped, there will also be a camera recording the proceeding. If it will be taped, you should not wear white clothes, as they tend to not photograph, or appear on video, well.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
You should remember that usually the first opportunity that the opposing attorney has to see you comes at the time of your deposition. First impressions are certainly important. You should strive to make a good impression upon the opposing lawyer and his or her client, and you should appear at the deposition dressed as you would expect to dress if you were actually going to court to appear before the judge or jury .
Dress conservatively, i.e., business casual.
Avoid extreme styles of clothing, etc.
Small children who are not a party to the lawsuit should not be brought to the deposition unless requested to do so by your attorney.
Treat all persons in the deposition room with respect.
Come prepared to exhibit any and all injuries that you have suffered, assuming the case involves a personal injury.
Have with you the facts and figures with respect to your time lost from work, amount of wages lost, doctor bills, hospital bills, and all other facts with respect to the damages caused as a result of your injury. Again, this is specific to personal injury cases.
Consider this an important and solemn occasion, and avoid “getting chummy” with the opposing lawyer or his or her client.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DO take your time. No need to rush. DO speak clearly.
DO answer all questions directly, giving concise answers to the questions, and TRY NOT TO RAMBLE. DO answer all questions audibly, i.e., do not answer by gesturing.
DO stick to the facts, and testify to only that which you have personal knowledge of. Do testify only to “basic facts” and do not attempt to give opinions of estimates or time and distance
unless you have good reasons for knowing such matters.
DO NOT lose you temper.
DO NOT answer any questions that you do not understand, ask that it be explained.
WHAT SHOULD I TELL THEM?
Probably most important of all, TELL THE TRUTH!
Do not try to determine whether a truthful answer will help or hinder your case. It is your lawyer’s job to deal with the facts in your case. You will only hurt your case by trying to do your lawyer’s job.
WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER?
If you don’t know, admit it. Never state as fact a thing you don’t know for sure is true. If you do not know the answer to a question, you should simply say “I don’t know”. You may feel that this will make you appear ignorant or evasive, but remember that if you try to estimate or guess and are later proved to be wrong, It will look like you deliberately told a lie or that you don’t know what you are talking about. Remember that no one knows everything.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motorcycle or auto accident, please call my law firm, the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer immediately at (916) 921-6400 locally or (800) 404-5400 toll-free for advice.