Tips for Giving your Deposition
A deposition is a process during which the opposing attorney has an opportunity to ask you questions. The questions can be on a variety of topics including your background, the events surrounding your case, and your claims in the lawsuit.
Depositions are generally taken under oath, and may even be videotaped. The testimony given at a deposition has the same effect as if you were in court, and the testimony can be read aloud to the jury during the ultimate trial.
Depositions are largely regarded as the pivotal event that happens during a case. The following is a summary of some essential tips for giving your deposition.
1. Always Tell the Truth
Most clients tell me that this goes without saying. My experience has taught me that it still needs to be said.
Telling the truth means not shading the truth, even a little. Attorneys are very resourceful. They may have information that you think they don’t have. Even if the truth is painful, it will probably do less harm to your case than lying, getting caught, and then having all of your other claims discredited because now you have been proven a “liar.”
2. Only Answer the Question that is Asked
A deposition is not the opportunity to tell your story. It is the opposing attorney’s opportunity to elicit harmful information from you. You should be polite and courteous. But you should not volunteer information—even if you think it helps your case. The less you say during your deposition, the better.
When possible, the preferred answers are: (1) Yes; (2) No; (3) I don’t know; (4) I don’t remember; or (5) I don’t understand the question.
3. Do Not Guess or Speculate
There may be questions to which you believe you should know the answer. But if you don’t, your answer should be #3 or #4 above. Even if the opposing attorney asks for you to guess or speculate . . . don’t.
That includes times when you just have a momentary brain cloud. Even if the question is “How old are you?” If you don’t remember the answer at that moment, say so. A speculative answer will almost always be more harmful to your case than “I don’t remember.”
4. Pause Before Answering
At times, depositions can begin to sound like informal conversations. But a good deposition should be at a slower pace.
Once the opposing attorney finishes his question, take a short moment to think before you speak. In addition to giving you time to compose a thoughtful answer, it gives your attorney a chance to object or instruct you not to answer if the question is inappropriate.
5. Review Important Evidence Before the Deposition
Being consistent is always important to any case. Before your deposition, review photos, reports, statements, etc. so that your testimony is accurate and consistent with the evidence and any prior statements. However, the caveat to this tip is do not do any independent research or consult with anyone besides your attorney. The extraneous information that you find may not help your case and it will be discoverable during your deposition. In other words, you may end up proving the other side’s case instead of your own!
If you follow these basic principles, your deposition will create a clear record that is truthful, consistent, and free from harmful points to your case. In the realm of a lawsuit, that is as good as one can hope for.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristopher S. Barber - The Barber Law Firm, PC
Kristopher S. Barber is a Dallas personal injury lawyer. The founder of The Barber Law Firm, PC in Richardson, Texas, his practice is focused on personal injury cases, including car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, trucking accidents, wrongful death, and general negligence.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.