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Tips to Prepare for Your Deposition

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When an injured person files a claim for compensation, sometimes settlement is an option. Sometimes, however, a lawsuit must be filed in order to get the insurance company to pay. This is an unfortunate reality. On a positive note, for those who hire an experienced personal injury lawyer, most of the litigation process will be handled by the attorney without a lot of work or involvement by the client. Depositions, on the other hand, are sometimes a scary element of litigation for injured people.

The good news is depositions are fairly straightforward and nothing to be afraid of.  So, let’s take a look at what a deposition actually is and what you can do to prepare for it.

What is a Deposition? 

By filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff is making allegations against the defendant. As a matter of due process, a defendant has a right to present a defense.  In order for each party to investigate and build its case, the law allows each side to take depositions. A deposition is a formal and adversarial proceeding that is taken under oath. In most cases, a deposition is the one and only time that the other side’s attorney can talk to you before trial. All other communications are through your attorney. Depositions are used for the purpose of discovering information and potential evidence.

What Does the Defendant’s Attorney Get to Ask? 

Under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 1.310), depositions are generally a bit more relaxed that in-court trial testimony, because the law says they are to be used for the purpose of eliciting information that could reasonably lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The defendant’s attorney needs to figure out what you know and what you will likely say at trial.

Unlike the movies, real trials should not be packed with surprises. The goal of depositions, like most of litigation, is to uncover the facts and reach an amicable resolution. The attorney will ask just about anything he or she thinks could lead to important, relevant information about the injury, your medical care, your income, or similar matters.

What if I Don’t Want to Answer? 

In most situations, you must answer. There will be a court reporter present, and your attorney will be there to object to questions that are impermissible, such as questions that may be protected by attorney-client privilege. But for the most part, you will have to answer the questions. Remember that although the defendant’s attorney is taking your deposition, your attorney will also get to take the defendant’s deposition and ask many of the same types of questions. Both sides have a right to open and honest responses. That said, there are some key tips to remember. 

  • Never volunteer information unless specifically asked

If the attorney asks you if you remember what happened, the correct answer is a yes or no. Let the attorney be the one to specify the question. Do not go off on tangents about unrelated matters.

  • Never lie or evade questioning

Your answers are under oath. Lying is perjury, which is a second-degree felony in the State of Florida. Plus, if you answer inconsistently at trial, the defense will use the deposition transcript to show that you are not truthful. This can destroy your case, even if you are 100 percent right about the facts. Jurors often punish people who hide or distort the truth.

  • Keep all answers audible

Head nods cannot be typed by a court reporter. Always use clearly spoken answers.

  • If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification

If you answer a question, it will be assumed you understood it. So, always ask for clarification if you are confused about what the defense attorney is asking.

Fight for Your Rights

For over 30 years, the attorneys of Roman & Roman, P.A. have been fighting for the rights of injured Floridians throughout the Tampa Bay area. If you or someone you love has been injured by someone else’s negligence, you should never have to fight alone. Call (877) 767-1032 or visit us online to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case. There are strict time limits on getting compensated, so don’t delay.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0837/Sections/0837.02.html

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