How to Know if Your Deposition Went Well
A personal injury lawsuit involves multiple phases. The discovery phase, which allows the plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys to request each other’s evidence, is among the most crucial. Opposing parties can review the evidence to assess legal strategies and determine how to argue against them.
One particular part of the discovery process is a deposition. A deposition is a question-and-answer session conducted by a lawyer with the plaintiff, defendant, or witness. The purpose of a deposition is to obtain relevant information about the case. Providing brief, direct, and factual answers to every question is crucial. You should never speculate or embellish. Your performance during a deposition can significantly affect your case’s outcome.
Top Tips for a Successful Deposition
When you’re deposed, you must answer each question honestly and accurately. A mistake deponents often make is giving more information than necessary. Your answers should always be brief and to the point. If you let your nerves get the best of you, you might talk too much and provide details that negatively affect your case.
You should keep these tips in mind while giving your deposition to ensure it goes well:
- Ask for clarification – You can ask the lawyer to clarify or repeat the question if you don’t understand it. Answering truthfully is impossible if you’re unsure of what you’re being asked. Admitting to not understanding the nature of the question is better than guessing and responding with information that can hurt your case.
- Be honest – You must be honest during your deposition, even if you think lying or withholding necessary details will improve your chance of recovering compensation. You are under oath during a deposition. That means the testimony you give must be factual. Lying under oath is illegal and can lead to severe consequences.
- Avoid speculation – You’re allowed to say you don’t know the answer to a question if you genuinely don’t know. What you say becomes a matter of record. You can’t change your story later if you remember the correct details. It will look like you lied during your deposition and can ruin your credibility.
- Don’t ramble – Many deponents feel uncomfortable during depositions. Awkward silences and the lawyer’s demeanor can cause anyone to talk more than they should. However, you must only answer the question asked and avoid volunteering additional information. Revealing something the defense lawyer hadn’t thought of can lead to more questions.
- Stay calm – Depositions can be stressful. Try to remain calm no matter what. Allowing opposing counsel to rattle you during the session allows them the opportunity to try to undermine your version of events or poke holes in your story. Your best approach during questioning is to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and carefully think about your response before answering.
The court reporter will compile a transcript of the deposition and provide copies to each legal team. Both lawyers can review the transcript to look for errors and determine what to do next.
What Happens if Your Deposition Didn’t go Well?
The aftermath of an unsuccessful deposition depends on the circumstances. Proceeding to trial might be necessary if the defense attorney believes they can win the case. Your lawyer might attempt to negotiate a settlement to prevent the lawsuit from proceeding further.
Two possible outcomes can result from a poorly executed deposition:
- Continuing discovery – Opposing parties will continue with discovery and gather evidence they can present at the trial. Typically, defense attorneys want to go to trial if the plaintiff doesn’t perform well during their deposition. A deposition isn’t only for obtaining information about the case. It can also predict how someone will do during questioning on the witness stand. If you stumble over your words, get angry, or crumble under pressure, it shows opposing counsel you will likely act similarly in court.
- Schedule mediation – Your attorney might schedule mediation to try to settle the case before the trial begins. In mediation, both sides meet with a mediator to negotiate a settlement agreement. The mediator listens to each party’s case and offers solutions to resolve the matter. Seeing how you did during the deposition might encourage your lawyer to settle the case now, so you don’t have to testify in court. Continuing settlement talks throughout the lawsuit are possible if mediation isn’t successful. You can continue negotiations until the jury reaches a verdict.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Deposition
You should hire an attorney immediately after the accident. However, if you handled your lawsuit yourself up until now, once you receive a summons to a deposition, seeking legal representation before the deposition is critical.
Depositions are technical interviews requiring adequate preparation and knowledge of the case. Your lawyer can help you practice and advise you on how to answer every question. They can explain the tactics the other attorney might use and advise you about how to protect yourself. Knowing what might happen during the deposition can help you construct the appropriate responses without saying something opposing counsel can use against you in court.
Your personal injury attorney can also be present during the deposition. They can’t answer the questions for you but can ensure the defense attorney asks appropriate questions relevant to the case. They can object on the record when they believe you shouldn’t answer if the question is too broad or seeks to obtain privileged information. They can also determine when it’s time to end the session if opposing counsel is unprofessional, aggressive, or rude.
Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Depositions can be overwhelming. Worrying about how you’ll do is normal, especially if you’ve never given one before. You should not go into it blindly. Hiring an experienced legal team increases your chance of doing well and strengthening your case instead of damaging it.
At Loewy Law Firm, we believe in advocating for people injured by others’ misconduct. We will stand up for your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us at (512) 957-9858 for a free consultation with an Austin personal injury lawyer today. Let us represent you during your deposition and provide the guidance you need.