Preparing for Your Personal Injury Deposition
by Greg Hach
Chances are you’re reading this because you searched ‘what to expect at a deposition’ or perhaps ‘how can I prepare for a deposition.’ If you did, you might have lost some faith in your current attorney, because you should never feel scared about the process or unprepared for questioning at the deposition. You should also never be uncomfortable telling your attorney that you feel this way.
For most clients, the prospect of giving a deposition is a frightening. It is important to remember that it is also the most important aspect in most cases. Without exception, it has enormous influence on the outcome of your case and the financial compensation you will likely receive.
How to Prepare
Preparing for your deposition is critical. It shouldn’t be rushed and crammed in right before, but also should never be done too far in advance.
The week of the deposition is usually the best time to prepare. You should understand that depositions are not conversations; instead, it is a series of questions and answers that take place under oath and penalty of perjury.
Common Deposition Mistakes to Avoid
One mistake people make in depositions is to offer too much information or discuss things that they were not specifically asked about. This is a natural tendency for many people that is often enhanced when they feel pressured or rushed.
You should always listen to the attorney’s question and specifically answer only the question that was posed. The client should never answer a question that they don’t understand, nor should they guess about the true meaning of the question.
For instance, if you are asked “how many feet were you from the intersection when you first saw the defendant’s vehicle?” If you don’t know, it is perfectly acceptable to respond, “I do not know.”
‘I do not know’ is a perfectly acceptable answer to most questions you will be asked.
Avoid absolutes such as ‘I can never exercise again’ and do not use language that is misleading or inappropriate. It is also not an endurance test; if you require a break (or five breaks for that matter) turn to your attorney and request one. Answer only what you know to be factually correct, and you don’t need to know the answer to every question. Most people tend to want to answer specific questions because they believe subconsciously, that they should know the answer. Always resist this temptation.
Your attorney should review your medical records with you to ensure there are no contradictions in your testimony and should review any preexisting conditions that apply to the lawsuit. If you deny a prior injury and the defendant’s attorney produces a relevant medical record, it could damage your credibility and ultimately, your financial recovery. It is essential to review and verify all claims for lost wages, lost time from work and any other claim that can be confirmed by the opposition.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Case
The importance of the deposition to the plaintiff’s case cannot be overstated. If you are questioning whether you were adequately prepared, it’s not too late to do something about it.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we discuss such issues with clients unsatisfied with their present counsel all the time. Sometimes there is a valid reason why their prior attorney handled something in a way that shook their client’s confidence. In such cases, we always discuss that reason with you.
If the case is being handled properly, we will suggest that you remain with your attorney. However, more often than not, we find that a prior attorney is not doing justice to their client or meeting that client’s needs.
When this is the case, it costs the client nothing to ask our firm take over the lawsuit. It is important to remember that as a client, you have just one “bite at the apple”. Make it count, and don’t allow poor legal representation to jeopardize your chance at obtaining the financial result you deserve.
Contact an Attorney
If you’re unsure what to do, give our firm a call for a completely confidential, pressure free, discussion and evaluation of your specific circumstances. We want to make sure you feel confident and prepared for your upcoming deposition. You felt strongly enough to search what you should expect from your deposition, now all you need to do is call Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 to get all the information you need.