If you were injured in a car wreck and file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, his insurance company lawyer will take your deposition.
What is a deposition?
It is an important part of the pretrial discovery process where sworn testimony from potential witnesses is recorded. The intense questioning is designed to find out what you as well as the other driver and others who will testify know and how witnesses will come across to the jury.
As a personal injury lawyer for the past 36 years, I have represented clients during countless depositions and wanted to provide guidance if you are involved in the litigation process or are considering filing a lawsuit.
How to give a good deposition
Be alert. Get plenty of sleep and limit stress so you can be focused and sharp. Don’t take pain medicines that might affect your memory.
Be on time and dress appropriately. Show that you take the case seriously. Dress as though you are going to a job interview.
Know your medical history. The insurance company’s lawyer will have reviewed your pre-collision medical history for indications of preexisting conditions or accidents. Be prepared to address questions about any previous wrecks, injuries and related pain you have suffered.
Prepare your answers. This may be your only time to testify about the crash and the effect it had on you since most cases settle outside of court. Practice your answers to the questions opposing counsel will ask you. The opposing lawyer will ask you a lot of questions about your
- background — your family, education, work history and employment
- collision — your recollection of what happened and relevant factors like the weather, lighting, speed, traffic signals, etc.
- medical history — your previous injuries might contribute to your post-collision medical conditions
- post-collision — your health, such as pain, disabilities, diagnostic tests, medical treatments and medicine you’re taking, lost wages, activities you can no longer do, and impact of disabilities, and pain and disfigurement on your life
Review documents including your medical records, police report, tax return, and photographs. A good lawyer will practice with you for as long as needed to make sure you are comfortable with what can be a nerve-racking process.
Be honest. The insurance company attorney will use inconsistencies or exaggerations, however small, against you in settlement negotiations and at trial. Giving honest, thoughtful answers works to your advantage even if your response is not entirely favorable to your case.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Depending on the question, it is okay to say, “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know.” Don’t try to guess the answer.
If you are confused, seek clarification. If you don’t understand the question or what a word means, speak up.
Give one-sentence response wherever possible. Answer each question honestly but succinctly unless a longer answer is necessary.
Make a good impression. You want the other attorney to be afraid that the jury will like you more than his client. Be friendly but firm.
Follow these tips and you will give an excellent deposition and win your case.