Preparing for a Deposition: Dos and Don’ts
You were injured in an automobile accident or hurt by a negligent healthcare provider. You hired an attorney, and you filed a lawsuit. Now, you have been told that you are required to give a deposition. For most injury victims, the very thought of being forced to sit through a deposition sounds more like an interrogation. At a minimum, few people look forward to it.
A deposition is the one and only time the other side’s lawyer gets to talk to you before the trial. This is their chance to learn about you. What kind of witness are you? Are you believable? Are you honest? What do you know? The good news is there are simple things you can do to prepare for your deposition and help your case. More importantly, these things will also help put you at ease before the big day.
DO: Go over the facts and review notes
Your attorney will probably give you lots of advanced notice. However, it may have been over a year or two since the event that caused your injuries. Chances are you may be a little hazy on the details now. If you took notes or kept a folder of important documents, spend a couple hours refreshing your memory.
DON’T: Talk to other people about your proposed testimony
While it may make sense to discuss the deposition and your case with your friends and other people you trust, it’s not wise. Of course, you should talk to your lawyer. But most defense attorneys will, at some point in the deposition, ask you whether you have spoken with anyone else in preparation for the deposition. If you did, you are now in the position of either lying (see below) or bringing that other person into the mix. Now, the defendant’s attorneys have a perfectly good excuse to take that person’s deposition to learn what they may know about the case.
DO: Prepare a list of questions to ask your lawyer
It can be very difficult to sit down with an attorney and remember all the questions you want to ask. So, why not take notes? Prepare a list of all the things you want to ask. That way, when you get to meet with or call your lawyer, you will make sure all questions are answered, and it makes for a quicker, more efficient meeting.
DON’T: Call your lawyer repeatedly in the days leading up to the deposition
Of course, if you have a valid reason to call your lawyer, do so. Here, we are talking about the nervous calling. If your deposition is a week away and you call your attorney 4-5 times a day, every day leading up to the deposition, you are only making yourself more nervous. Remember that if the lawyer is on the phone with you, then he or she is not working on preparing for the deposition. Your lawyer’s time is best spent reviewing your file and preparing for the deposition as well.
DO: Openly and honestly answer all questions you are required to answer
This is actually advice for what to do during your deposition, but it’s important to think about beforehand. A deposition is a formal, yet adversarial proceeding. You will be sworn under oath, meaning intentionally telling a lie can actually be prosecuted as perjury under Florida law. If you don’t have an answer, be honest and say so. But never lie in your deposition. If you are worried about your testimony or something you feel will hurt your case, tell your lawyer long before the deposition.
DON’T: Volunteer information
This is often one of the first pieces of advice a lawyer will give a client before a deposition. You have to tell the truth; you do not have to volunteer information. Make the defense attorney earn his or her salary. If the attorney asks whether you were driving to work, the answer should be yes or no. Do not volunteer that you were going to work early that day because you had hours to make up from the prior week. The more information you volunteer, the more you help the defendant.
Contact our Florida personal injury lawyers today
With offices in Tampa, Clearwater, and Hudson and over 100 years combined experience, the attorneys of Roman & Roman, P.A. aggressively fight for the rights of the injured throughout the Tampa Bay area. Call (877) 767-1032 for a free consultation, and find out how they can help you with your case.