Recently we posted this entry on our blog about depositions. We didn’t say too much about the nitty gritty of a personal injury plaintiff’s deposition, but here on our resources page we have a chance to say a few things in greater depth.
If you’ve read the pointers we listed on our blog, as well as our comments here, it will be a lot easier for us to give you specific legal advice when we help you prepare for your own deposition. As always, what you may read on our web pages is not legal advice. We may give you some general guidelines, but the real advice comes when we are talking with you directly, about your specific case, whether we do it on the phone or face to face.
So here we go. Some generic pointers.
Don’t crack jokes or make small talk during depositions. Answer the questions that are asked as truthfully as possibly, and then, stop talking! Also, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t remember,” or “I don’t know.” I’ve said this already, but I’ll say it again. When you’ve finished answering the question, stop talking!
If we object to the other side’s question, listen to what we’re saying! The only time you’re not supposed to answer is when we tell you not to answer.
Meanwhile, here’s one of our pet peeves. In the middle of a deposition, don’t pull out random bits of paper or notes from your briefcase or purse. You shouldn’t bring anything with you into the deposition room except what you’ve been asked to bring by your own lawyers. If you need help remembering the name of a doctor, or when your next appointment is, don’t sweat it. We can always tell them later.
You know, there’s one thing that only you can do at a deposition. That is, to state as plainly and directly as possible how you’ve been injured and how your family has been affected. We sure have a lot of clients, but you’re the only one who can testify as to what it’s like to be you. Don’t be shy about it. This is your chance to let the guys defending your case know what it’s like to walk a mile in your shoes.
In the end, you’re your own best (or worst) witness. Make sure they get the real you, and the result will reflect the good result you deserve.
At the end of a deposition, unlike a trial, you won’t get a decision. There’s no jury, and no judge. A deposition is not something you can win or lose. All we’ll get back is a booklet containing everything that’s been said on the record, word for word. You may be asked to read it and sign it, to make sure the court reporter has taken it down correctly. But you can’t change what you’ve said. Once your deposition has been taken, we’ll all know, and will bank on, your potential value as an in-court witness.
And then we’ll either get your case settled, or continue on to take a deposition of somebody else. Chances are, your case will still take a while to resolve. But now, at least, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Until we have a settlement conference or mediation, where you’ll need to show up again, and unless after that your case is actually going to trial, you won’t be asked to make another official appearance. We’re quite sure that’s ok with you.