What Is A Deposition?
If you are ever a party to a personal injury lawsuit, you may end up having to do a deposition. A deposition is one method lawyers use to gather information about a case. In a deposition, the witness is asked questions under oath about his or her claims or what they contend happened. The attorneys will likely ask questions about your background, including questions about your education, family, and work. The attorneys will also ask you questions about the events that are the subject of the lawsuit. For example, in a car wreck case, the attorney will ask you about specific facts and observations regarding the car wreck and any personal injuries cause by the collision.
How do I prepare for the deposition?
Your personal injury attorney should help you prepare beforehand by reviewing the facts of the case with you, and helping you to understand how to conduct yourself during the deposition. Some important things to remember in your deposition would include:
- Make sure you understand the question before you answer;
- Only answer the question being asked;
- Always tell the truth;
- If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess and don’t speculate.
What do I do if my attorney objects during the deposition?
Sometimes your attorney may object to a question. In Texas cases, attorneys are limited to saying “objection form” or “objection leading.” This simply means that the attorney is objecting to the form of the question (it could be a confusing question, a compound question, or a question that is not specific enough). If a question is leading, that means it is suggesting a particular answer. Leading questions are permitted in some circumstances.
There may be some times where your attorney will instruct you to not answer a given question. For instance, if the question is asking for privileged attorney-client communications, your attorney can instruct you to not answer a question. Unless you are given specific instructions to not answer a question, you must answer the question, if you understand it.
How should I act during the deposition?
Your deposition testimony may be used in trial, so always be polite and treat the opposing attorney with respect, even if he or she is being rude or forceful. Attorneys use depositions to determine how much a jury will like you at trial, so it’s always a good idea be on your best behavior.
How should I dress for my deposition?
Your attorney should answer this question for you depending on the circumstances. Many personal injury attorneys will videotape a deposition, so your appearance is important. A good rule of thumb is that you can never be too overdressed. Understand that part of the purpose of a deposition is for the other lawyers and their representatives to “size you up.” If you dress like a slob, they’ll think you’re a slob. We generally tell our clients to wear business casual– something that would not be embarrassing for you if you saw someone important at the grocery store.
Deposition preparation is important. How you answer questions, your wording, and your personal presentation are all important aspects of your case.