If you file a lawsuit to recover damages for injuries you sustain, there’s a good chance that you will have a deposition scheduled. Although there are stories about the good and bad of depositions and movies that depict depositions in different ways, it may help to know what to expect in a typical deposition.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is simply a chance for the other side to ask you questions about your case before your trial so that they can prepare for what you will say in a trial. It is a question and answers session, except that everything you say is recorded and transcribed, and the process is done under oath.
Bear in mind that everybody’s deposition is a little different. Much will depend on the facts of your case, and the attorney taking your deposition (that is, asking you the questions). Still, there are some guidelines everybody can follow to make them more comfortable going in.
Advice for Car Accident Depositions
- Tell the truth: There’s no need to embellish facts or be dramatic. Don’t think about what may hurt or help your case—just tell the truth.
- Don’t guess: Most people get in trouble when they estimate or guess. It’s human nature to want to be helpful, which can lead to guessing. The problem with guessing is that there’s a good chance your guests will be different months later in a trial when you’re asked the same question. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a question.
Remember that accidents are traumatic times, and our brains may not register exact times and distances the way they do when we’re calm. For example, if you are asked how far you were from an oncoming car, you should avoid saying “probably about four or five feet,” or “I think about five feet.” You either know or you don’t but do not estimate or guess unless you’re specifically asked to do so.
- Don’t be argumentative. “ The attorney asking you questions may be very friendly or may be hostile. Even if it seems like you’re being badgered or the other attorney is rude or invasive, keep your composure. Remember that the attorney is evaluating how you will present to a jury down the road.
- Don’t say too much. You should answer the questions asked of you fully and completely, but don’t go beyond the question. A question like “tell me about your pain” may require a longer more detailed answer. But “have you had surgery” only requires you to answer yes or no.
- Ask for clarification. Sometimes questions may be asked which contain legal terms you don’t understand. Or, the other attorney may just ask a complex question that can have different meanings. If the other attorney asks you a question you don’t understand, feel free to say that, and politely ask him or her to be clearer.
The most important rule in depositions is to relax and be yourself. Be on guard, but don’t be intimidated. In fact, many victims appreciate depositions, where they can tell their side of the story in their own words to the other side.
Make sure that your attorneys are prepared to take your accident case to trial if need be. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your accident and injuries.