Your Personal Injury Case: Giving a Good Deposition
As part of a personal injury case, it is not uncommon for witnesses to be required to give depositions. So, what is a deposition? Depositions consist of witness testimony that is generally given away from the courtroom. They are used as part of the discovery process in an effort to gather more information that can be used in court (if necessary). The deposition can be videotaped and/or it may be transcribed into written form by a court reporter or transcriptionist.
What to Expect When You Are in a Deposition
While at the deposition, you (the person being deposed) will be asked a number of questions that will need to be answered under oath. The opposing lawyer will ask those questions and your attorney will also have an opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
Undoubtedly, the thought of testifying, even in a room with only a few people, can be scary and intimidating — particularly if you’ve never been involved in the legal system in the past. Nevertheless, depositions are a common part of personal injury cases, so it is important for you to be as prepared as possible.
How to Ensure You Give the Best Deposition Possible
Generally speaking, many personal injury cases are settled before even making it to the courtroom. That said, the deposition may be your only chance to tell your side of the story with respect to what happened. Insurers and attorneys use depositions to evaluate a witness’ credibility and, in the event, the case does go to court, the deposition can be used to contradict whatever is said at trial.
Preparation is key in depositions. Your Denver personal injury lawyer will want to meet with you in preparation for the deposition. You should be aware, however, that your attorney will not tell you exactly what to say in response to the questions asked, but you will be advised as to the types of questions that can be expected from opposing counsel and you will be given an approximation as to how long the deposition should take.
Your lawyer might also be able to provide you with insight regarding opposing counsel’s typical demeanor, attitude, style and tone. During the deposition, it is imperative that you remain respectful and courteous, avoid getting angry or hostile and you never want to be sarcastic when responding to questions. Make sure your answers are short and to the point and take time to think before responding. And most importantly, if you do not understand a question, ask to have it rephrased in a way that is more understandable to you.
The most obvious thing you can do to have a good deposition is to simply tell the truth. After all, you will be under oath and ultimately you are required to be truthful — the same way you must tell the truth in a courtroom. The best way to ensure truthful testimony is to stick to the facts of the case. It is not uncommon for people to want to distort the truth or embellish what happened in an effort to make it as dramatic as possible. But that is not necessary and “stretching the truth” certainly will not help your case, as the opposing side will investigate the things you say.
Depositions are important to personal injury cases, but there is no need for you to fear yours. Your attorney will be beside you every step of the way to assist as needed. If you or a family member have questions about an upcoming deposition, or if you would like to discuss your personal injury case, contact Levine Law today.