How To Prepare For A Deposition

deposition file on white desk next to phone

If you have decided to pursue legal action against someone for personal injury, you may be asked for a deposition by the liable party’s attorney. This is a question-and-answer session that serves various purposes, which we will discuss in this article. Depositions are an important part of the legal process, but they can be intimidating. We will teach you how best to prepare for a deposition and give you a general idea of what to expect. 

What is a Deposition?

A deposition is a part of the pre-trial discovery process in a lawsuit. It involves the sworn testimony of a witness or party to the case that is given outside of the courtroom. Typically, the deposition is conducted in an attorney’s office, and a court reporter records the proceedings. The testimony provided during a deposition carries the same weight as testimony given in court, making it a vital component of legal proceedings.

When and Why Do Depositions Occur?

Again, depositions occur during the discovery phase of a lawsuit. This is when each party gathers supporting evidence in favor of their case. It includes video, medical notes, bills, photographs, and witness testimony.  

Depositions are a type of witness interview that serves several functions:

Introductions and Impressions: the deposition is likely the first time the defense attorney will meet you. They use this time to garner first impressions, hear how you respond to questions, and determine your strength of character.

Information Gathering: Depositions allow both parties to obtain information about the case, including facts, evidence, and witness testimony. They are a chance for the plaintiff to reiterate the strong points of his or her case, and a chance for the defense to look for potential inconsistencies in favor of the defendant.   

Preserving Testimony: Depositions help preserve the testimony of witnesses and parties while their memories are fresh. They are also given under oath, which means the information given at a deposition can be admissible in court should the case proceed to trial. 

Common Questions Asked In A Deposition 

During a deposition, attorneys have the opportunity to ask a wide range of questions relevant and irrelevant to the case. These questions can include:

Background Information

You may be asked questions about your personal and professional background. In some cases, these questions can seem extensive or extraneous. Many of the questions may be irrelevant and your answers, therefore, inadmissible. However, the defense attorney may be looking for some detail that can be used to discredit you. Keep your answers simple and through the lens of your case.   

Events Leading to the Lawsuit

The defense may ask you to confirm or elaborate on the circumstances leading to the accident and subsequent lawsuit. You will likely need to recall details such as the time, date, and place of the accident, as well as other factors you observed at the time that support your case. 

Injuries and Damages

Questions regarding any injuries sustained and the impact they have had on your life are quite common. You may be asked for your pain levels, response to prior injuries compared to this one, medications you are on, etc.   

Medical History

There may be inquiries about your medical history, pre-existing conditions, and any treatments received. Defense attorneys often try to blame your current injuries on pre-existing ones. Your personal injury attorney will help prepare you for questions attempting to trivialize your accident.   

Prepare For A Deposition

Being prepared for a deposition is essential to ensure that you provide accurate and consistent testimony and maintain the integrity of your case. The defense attorney is not trying to trick you, per se, but they are looking for ways to weaken your case and discredit you as a witness. You need to be cautious, but confident in your answers. Use the following guide to best prepare for your deposition:

Be Honest

First and foremost: always tell the truth during a deposition. Lying or providing false information is a crime and can have serious legal consequences. Moreover, many defense attorneys are skilled at discerning when a witness is lying, and they can utilize this intuition to try and confuse you or make you recant a statement. Stay consistent, honest, and confident in your answers. You know what happened, and no one can change that so long as you tell the truth. 

Thoroughly Review the Facts

Take the time to review the facts of the case and refresh your memory about the events in question. Practice with your lawyer so that you are firm in your answers about details regarding the accident.

Anticipate Questions

Work with your personal injury lawyer to anticipate the types of questions you may be asked during the deposition. Based on the specifics of your lawsuit, your attorney may be able to prepare you for questions that could be used to try to elicit an emotional response or cause confusion. 

Practice Responses

Practice answering potential questions with your attorney to ensure clarity and coherence in your responses. Your attorney will help you with presentation and elocution as well so that you do not appear too wooden or too emotional. 

Listen To The Entire Question

Although you may be nervous, it is important that you listen to the entire question before responding. If you answer a question that turns out to be different from the one you thought the attorney was really asking, it can have a detrimental effect on your credibility.

Do Not Guess Or Volunteer Information

If you do not know the answer to an attorney’s question, it is completely fine to admit it. The human memory is not infallible. You are only responsible for remembering the details you and your attorney have discussed as vital to your case. Likewise, you do not want to volunteer information that was not asked. Wait in between each question and do not speak until you are asked another one. The more information you give, the more the defense has to look for flaws in your case. 

Do Not Bring Supporting Documentation

Your deposition is not the time to bring documentation such as journal entries, doctor’s notes, or other items that could be scrutinized by the Defense. Do not bring anything with you unless specifically instructed by your personal injury lawyer. 

Try And Relax

Yes, a deposition can be stressful. But your attorney will help you prepare so that you can remain calm and trust that justice is on your side. The deposition is important, but it is only one part of your case. 

Plus, you may have the opportunity to correct any mistakes or omissions. If you forgot to mention something in one of your answers, tell your lawyer during the break. He or she will bring it to the attention of the recorder, who will amend the transcript. If you remember later on, you can request a transcript of the deposition and submit corrections. 

Your Attorney Will Help You Prepare For A Deposition

Your personal injury lawyer will be by your side throughout the course of your lawsuit, including during the deposition. Before being questioned, your attorney will review the facts of the case with you and go over the rules and logistics of the deposition process. This is termed “admonishment” and is important in leveling the playing field between the deposed and the questioning attorney. 

Your attorney will anticipate questions that may be asked and practice appropriate and honest responses with you. He or she will also help you build your speaking confidence and maintain focus on the important aspects of the case. 

During the deposition, your lawyer will be present to support you, object to improper questions, and ensure that your rights are protected.

The Best Personal Injury Attorneys in Colorado

The attorneys at The Roth Group in Denver pride themselves on involving their clients throughout the litigation process while also handling the most stressful aspects of the case so you can focus on recovery. We will ensure there are no surprises and that you are well-educated should the need for deposition arise. For the best personal injury representation in Colorado, call or go online today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.