When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you must complete various tasks and go through multiple stages. An essential part of a lawsuit is the discovery phase. Opposing parties request information from each other to learn the facts the other party will rely on in the case and create strategies to argue against them.
During discovery, the plaintiff’s lawyer and defense attorney often request depositions. A deposition is a question-and-answer session with a witness to the case. Typically, the defense attorney requests a deposition from the plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s lawyer requests a deposition from the defendant.
You should understand how depositions work and what you can expect before attending yours. Your lawyer can help prepare you for your session to improve your chance of having a successful deposition and prevent mistakes deponents commonly make.
Tips on Handling Your Deposition Successfully
A court reporter will be at your deposition to record what every person says. After the deposition, they will create a transcript both sides can review for errors and use as evidence to prove their cases or poke holes in the other party’s story.
You must answer every question truthfully while giving a deposition. However, your answers should be as brief as possible. One of the most common mistakes people make during depositions is providing unnecessary information or details the defense team can use against them in court.
You can follow the tips below to increase your chance of a successful deposition and strengthen your case:
- Answer honestly – Your responses must be honest. You might think stretching the truth or withholding information will help, but it can damage your case. If someone finds out you lied under oath, it can lead to legal consequences and destroy your credibility as a witness.
- Remain calm – You might worry about your upcoming deposition and how well you’ll do. Your nerves can take over and prevent you from keeping your composure. However, you must remain calm. Letting the defense attorney rattle you allows them to steer the line of questioning in another direction or undermine your claims.
- Don’t speculate about the incident – Your deposition will involve questions about the accident. You should never respond if you don’t know the answer. You’re allowed to tell the attorney you don’t know if you genuinely don’t know. Giving your opinion or speculating about what happened can work against you later. You won’t be able to change your version of events without looking like you lied during your deposition.
- Ask the lawyer to clarify – Answering a question when you don’t understand it can hurt your case. You can ask the defense lawyer to repeat the question or explain what they’re asking if you need clarification.
- Avoid rambling – Awkward silences often cause deponents to ramble. However, talking too much won’t benefit you. You might unintentionally volunteer details the defense team didn’t know, opening up a new line of questioning. Keep your answers short and to the point.
What Happens After a Deposition that Didn’t Go Well?
You can tell your deposition didn’t go well if your lawyer schedules mediation to settle the case or the defense attorney wants to proceed to trial. Two possible stages after a poorly executed deposition often include:
- Mediation – A deposition isn’t only about obtaining relevant information about the case from witnesses. It shows how someone might perform on the witness stand. It can indicate how you might act in court if you get angry, flustered, or ramble. To avoid the negative impact of your testimony at trial, your attorney might decide it’s better to negotiate a settlement during mediation.
- Prepare for trial – The defense attorney will likely want to take the case to trial if your deposition doesn’t go well. You might have provided some information they didn’t know that benefits their case. If you don’t settle the case during negotiations or mediation, opposing parties must continue with discovery and prepare for trial.
Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
A deposition is a nerve-wracking and overwhelming experience for many. Although a deposition is a necessary part of a personal injury lawsuit, giving one can be stressful. However, you can let go of your fears and breeze through yours by preparing with your attorney.
Veron Bice, LLC can represent you during your personal injury case and guide you through every stage of the process, including your deposition. We will protect your rights and aggressively fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.