A deposition can be a scary situation to be in before a case goes to trial, but it is one that most plaintiffs can’t avoid. So, if you want to avoid harming your case, it is important to know why depositions are held, their purpose to the defense and how to deal with them effectively.
Here we’re going to break down what a deposition is, what the goals are and how to prepare yourself for a deposition.
One thing to remember is never to speak to anyone about your case. Let your legal team handle all the aspects of your case and any communication with the opposing counsel. The less information the other side has, the less they can try to disprove your case or use your words against you.
That being said, if a deposition is requested, you generally must submit to it, but you don’t have to go in blind, not knowing what to do.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is typically done during the exploration phase of a case and involves the defense interviewing the plaintiff for a question and answer session that is taken under oath with a court official present.
During this time legal teams are present for both sides. There are several purposes for a deposition. First of all, the defense is looking to judge the character and standing of the plaintiff, whether they seem truthful or sympathetic, and how they will appear to a jury.
Second, the opposing counsel is trying to gain evidence that may be used against you or for their case. This is one reason why it is important to prepare for your deposition before it happens so that the opposing counsel is given only what they are legally required to know about the case and they cannot use any statement or information against you.
Lastly, because depositions are taken under oath, it is a way for the opposing counsel to trap you into statements because they can compare statements from the deposition to statements given in court and point out flaws or inconsistencies which may hurt your case.
Depositions are fully recorded and a certified court reporter normally creates a transcript of all the questions and answers. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, most depositions are also video recorded as they are held using video conferencing technology such as Zoom.
Your legal team should work with you throughout the entire process, so there’s no reason to be scared or to feel alone when facing a deposition. With the help of these tips we hope you’ll know exactly what to say to get through the deposition while keeping your case strong and intact.
Go Over The Facts of Your Case With Your Attorney
The first thing you should do is go over the strong points of your case with your attorney. Know the facts and be prepared to present them. This will also help you discover any weak points in your case and how to avoid giving this information over to the opposing counsel.
Practice and rehearse your statements and know what information you are ok with giving.
Never Volunteer Unnecessary Information
Remember that you are trying to protect your case and that giving any information away that is not directly asked of you can harm your case. Answer the questions asked, directly and truthfully, but never say more than is necessary.
The one asking the questions is going to be fishing for information, so the less you give them, the better for your case.
Be Clear, Don’t Lie, and Don’t Guess
You’re under oath so you’ll be legally obligated to tell the truth, but that doesn’t mean that you can answer every question that is asked of you. If you can’t remember a specific fact or piece of information that the person is seeking, say so.
If you did know, but can’t recall, say so. Give your answers to the best of your ability, but do not hesitate to speak up if you can’t remember or are uncertain and explain yourself. No one has a perfect memory and they cannot force you to admit to something if you truly don’t recall.
Remain Silent Until Asked a Question and Wait For the Full Question Before Responding
Everything you say during a deposition is being recorded, even if speaking in between questions. Therefore, you should only speak when you have to. When asked a question, make sure you hear the entire question and most importantly, that you understand the full context of the question before answering.
Answering early or going beyond the scope of the question can lead to mistakes in your testimony that can be used against you, so keeping it short and simple is the best solution to getting through the deposition.
Use Your Legal Team
Depositions can be long and intense. The opposing counsel can ask hours of questions, oftentimes delving into a person’s life and personal history. This can be stressful and difficult to deal with, but so long as you prepare for these possibilities you can make it through.
Any sensitive details such as childhood trauma or life events that may be difficult to deal with can be brought up, so talking through these issues beforehand can prepare you with how to respond. If questions go too far beyond the scope of exploration your attorney can object and have the question removed.
So, always make use of your legal team and lean on them for support
To Sum Up
There you have it, our tips for how to prepare for a deposition. No two depositions are the same, but by following these tips and using your legal team effectively, it is possible to get through a deposition and have a strong case.