Prepare for Your Deposition
A deposition can be intimidating. It’s a necessary part of a personal injury lawsuit. However, answering questions a defense attorney asks is a stressful process. You might worry about saying the wrong thing or providing incorrect information.
Adequately preparing for a deposition is crucial. You should practice responding to every possible question and avoid common errors that can negatively affect the outcome of your case.
Tricks and Traps Lawyers Use During Depositions
Attorneys often use tactics to trick a deponent into providing information helpful to their opponent’s cases. The defense lawyer in your personal injury lawsuit might ask confusing questions or bait you into revealing details they can use against you at trial.
The most common tricks and traps lawyers use during depositions include:
- Asking broad questions – Sometimes, opposing counsel asks questions covering irrelevant topics. The content of the question has nothing to do with the subject matter of the case. However, an attorney can ask about your credit history, personal relationships, criminal background, and past accidents. Although this questioning seems unnecessary, the answers can provide evidence they can use in court.
- Discussing photographs or documents – Either lawyer can present documentation as exhibits in a deposition. The defense attorney might ask about a specific photo or document. However, they can be evasive and not place the evidence in front of you. Providing accurate answers will be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with what they’re referring to. You have the right to ask to see the document before answering questions about it. Defense lawyers might also interpret documents differently and pressure you into agreeing with their interpretations. If you disagree with their interpretation, you can say so.
- Using false information during questioning – Another common trick opposing counsel uses is asking a question containing inaccurate information. Their goal is to get you to respond with details about the case that work in their client’s favor.
- Remaining silent – The defense attorney might allow a long silence after you answer a question. The silence is a tactic to get deponents to elaborate or explain their answers. You might offer more information than necessary or admit to something indicating your actions contributed to the accident.
- Forcing a specific answer – You likely don’t know the answer to every question with complete accuracy. Sometimes, admitting that you don’t know is your only option. For example, opposing counsel might ask how fast you were driving before the car crash. If you give an estimated range, they can press you on the issue and force an answer that might not be correct. They could later use your inaccurate answer to show you’re not truthful.
- Asking compound questions – A compound question involves two separate topics. The defense lawyer might ask a yes or no question about two different subjects related to the case. By answering yes or no, you respond to both questions simultaneously despite each question requiring a different answer.
Deposition Mistakes to Avoid
Sitting across from a lawyer answering their questions for hours can be overwhelming. Mistakes are common when someone’s nerves get the best of them. You must remain calm and try to avoid common mistakes people make during depositions, such as:
- Volunteering information – You should never provide testimony or volunteer details about something opposing counsel didn’t ask for. A simple yes or no is acceptable in many situations. Although you might feel compelled to explain your answer or offer supporting details, it does nothing except give the defense lawyer evidence they can use against you. It might also open another line of questioning about what you mentioned.
- Getting upset or angry – Making a good impression is crucial in various aspects of life. It’s important in a deposition, too. You must maintain a friendly and cooperative demeanor. Getting upset or responding to a question with anger or sarcasm benefits the defense attorney. They might ask the same questions during the trial to elicit the same response and try to prove to the jury that you have erratic or unreasonable behavior.
- Guessing while answering questions – You should never assume, speculate, or offer opinions on questions asked during a deposition. You don’t have to answer everything. If you don’t know, you can say you don’t know. What you say goes on the record. If you change your story later, it can appear that you lied.
- Bringing documents to the deposition – You might want to bring evidence or notes to the deposition to refer to while answering questions. However, opposing counsel can review anything you bring and ask questions about your material. The documents might contain information they don’t know about and offer new evidence for their case.
Strategies for a Successful Deposition
Preparing for a deposition requires implementing various strategies while practicing how to answer potential questions. Using suitable strategies can improve your case and increase the chance of a favorable outcome.
Strategies you should consider for your deposition:
- Plan ahead – You can review information about the lawsuit before the deposition to refresh your memory. That way, you feel more prepared to answer questions honestly and accurately.
- Pause before answering – You don’t have to answer each question immediately after the defense attorney asks it. Take a moment and think about how to pose your response. You might avoid saying something that negatively impacts your case if you give yourself time to craft the appropriate answer.
- Ask for clarification – Some questions might confuse you. That’s okay. You can ask opposing counsel to repeat the question or explain what they asked. You will likely provide false or irrelevant information if you answer without understanding the nature of the question.
- Be honest – You must tell the truth even if you think it will hurt your case. Lying during a deposition is like lying while testifying in court. You are under oath and required to provide truthful answers.
Get Help with Your Deposition from an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
You’re not alone if you have questions about how to prepare for your deposition. You should consult a knowledgeable and skilled personal injury lawyer from Loewy Law Firm.
We have years of experience representing injured clients in personal injury cases. You can count on us to help you practice and guide you through the process.
Call our experienced Austin personal injury attorney at (512) 957-9858 for a free consultation today if you have questions about your upcoming deposition. We aggressively represent our clients and fight for justice.