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What Is A Deposition?

The legal process can seem confusing and intimidating, so we explain some common legal terminologies and answer some frequently asked questions. Here we discuss what a deposition is. Simply speaking, a deposition is a pretrial examination under oath. During the deposition, attorneys from the other side will ask you questions, and a court reporter (and possibly a videographer) will record your answers. 

There is a period when you can correct or complete your answers if you happen to make a mistake or forget a detail. The answers you submit during your deposition are your sworn testimony; they can be used in court.

The Setting

If your attorney asks you to participate in a deposition, do not worry. This is simply an opportunity for you to communicate your side of the story before the trial (or settlement), and your attorney(s) will prepare you for what you can expect. It will typically take place in your attorneys’ offices. 

Present will be the following attendees:

  • You
  • Your attorney(s)
  • The opposing attorney(s)
  • The court reporter (and possibly a videographer)

The Examination

During the deposition, you will be asked to raise your right hand and swear or affirm to tell the truth. Then you will be asked a series of questions. All you have to do is answer truthfully. To best represent yourself, it is important to speak clearly and to dress professionally—especially if there is a videographer present. 

The most important thing is to be truthful. If you make a mistake, it’s OK. You can review a transcript or recording of the deposition. There is also an allotted period (around 30 days) to make changes.

How to Prepare for Your Deposition

Your attorney is the best person to prepare you for your deposition. Lawyers who handle personal injury claims participate in depositions on a regular basis. You will want to meet with your lawyer to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Every plaintiff or defendant has strong points and weak points in their case. Your attorney can help you get ready for the “sticky” questions. 

By the time a personal injury claim reaches the point at which the lawyers are taking depositions of the parties and witnesses, months may have passed since the accident that caused the injury. You will want to refresh your memory about details so the other lawyer does not take advantage of things you might have forgotten. You might want to reread things like:

  • The accident or incident report filed with the nursing home or healthcare provider
  • Any notes you might have about the incident
  • Your medical records from the initial assessment of the injury and all medical treatment you received
  • The lawsuit papers, including the petition or complaint, interrogatories, requests for admissions, and any documents produced during discovery. 

Sometimes it can help to talk with a close friend or relative involved in your injury claim or who cared for you during your recovery. Be careful, however, that the person has a clear, reliable memory. This way, they do not confuse your memories of the events. Also, do not rehearse your testimony; you do not want to sound overly coached.

Tips for Testifying in a Deposition

We cannot stress enough how important it is to always tell the truth when testifying in a deposition. In addition to the ethical reasons for honesty, you will make your lawyers’ job more difficult if you do not answer all the questions honestly. 

If the defendant’s attorney can prove someone did not tell the truth during deposition, they can use that in court and make the judge or jury distrust everything that person says. Here are some more pointers you might find useful during your deposition:

  1. If you feel that the other lawyer is badgering or pressuring you, try to slow down the pace of the questioning. Think of a deposition like a basketball game. The team that controls the pace of the game usually wins. If the defendant’s attorney fires questions at you quickly or loudly, simply take a few breaths before you respond. The other lawyer cannot force you to blurt out your answers quickly.
  2. Another reason to avoid blurting out responses is so your lawyer can object to any of the other lawyer’s questions. If you already answered the question, then it is pointless for your attorney to make an objection. If you answer a question that the other lawyer should not have asked you, you gave them a free point. If things get stressed or contentious, give your attorney time to raise objections
  3. If the deposition goes on for a long time or you feel that you need a break, tell your attorney. Sometimes a 10-minute “comfort break” will be enough to reduce the emotional level so that you can think clearly and calmly. You are allowed to talk to your lawyer outside of the deposition room, within reason. The length of the deposition will determine how many breaks are reasonable. 

If you work with an attorney on your injury claim, you will have someone who can shield you from another lawyer’s attempts to bully or intimidate you. Your attorney will prepare you, inform you of what to expect, and can clearly explain the truth of your case.

The purpose of the deposition is for the attorneys in the case (on both sides) to record your statements regarding the details of the case. The deposition is perhaps your largest contribution to your trial, and it is very important to the success of your case. 

Call Brown & Barron About Your Personal Injury Case Today

Our attorneys at Brown & Barron focus on representing the victims of nursing home abuse/neglect, birth injuries, and medical malpractice. We know firsthand how these facilities function, and just how vulnerable patients and residents are to injuries. 

If you or a family member suffered medical malpractice or nursing home negligence, we invite you to contact our team as soon as possible. You can learn more about your rights and options. Contact our team today for a consultation or to discuss what to expect during a lawsuit.

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