Six Important Tips for Testifying at Your Deposition
If you are unable to settle your Florida personal injury claim, you may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party or insurance company. If this happens, you likely will be required to give a deposition. A deposition is the taking of oral testimony of a party or witness under oath before trial. A court reporter will be present to record the lawyers’ questions and your answers which will later be typed in the form of a booklet.
Your conduct and appearance as well as your answers will be used by the attorneys to evaluate the case before trial, and as a settlement tool for both sides. In the event of trial, your deposition may be used as testimony or it may be used to impeach you on cross-examination to try to discredit your testimony by showing that it is inaccurate, untrue and is something different than what you said on other occasions.
Because of the importance of your deposition, it is imperative that you prepare beforehand for your testimony. Below are 6 important tips to remember when preparing for your deposition.
Immediately after your deposition is over, the lawyer for the insurance company will report back to the insurance company regarding what transpired at your deposition. The attorney will also comment on your appearance and how he or she thinks you will come across in front of a jury. As your dress and appearance will affect the other side’s evaluation of the appearance that you will make before a jury, it is important that your dress be appropriate to your position in life. Also, make sure that you are dressed comfortably, as your deposition may last a number of hours.
The most important instruction is to be truthful in your answers. This means not only refraining from telling a deliberate falsehood, but it also means being accurate. Do not guess at your answer. If you do not know the answer, admit that you don’t know. If your memory is weak on a matter but you feel you should know the answer, admit that you do not recall. Any indication that you are being less than forthcoming in your answers (whether intentional or not) will adversely affect the value of your case and your ability to settle. If it at all appears that you are deliberately being untruthful, your case could potentially also be dismissed.
Make Sure You Understand the Question Before Answering It
While this might seem like common sense, it’s not. Many people, especially when nervous, will give an answer to a question even if they don’t fully understand it. If you do this, it can (and likely will) come back to haunt you. If you do not understand the question or any part of the question, ask that it be repeated or rephrased. Admit that you do not understand it and ask for an explanation.
Limit Your Answers To The Questions Asked
This may also seem like common sense, but nervous people tend to talk a lot. The more you talk, the longer you’re deposition will take because the opposing lawyer will likely have many more follow up questions and questions on issues he or she may not have otherwise intended to cover. That is why it is important that you do not answer beyond the question being asked. Do not try to anticipate the “line of questioning.” After you have answered the specific question, stop talking and wait for the next question, even if the lawyer pauses as though he or she is waiting for additional explanation. Do not let the silence after you have answered the question force you to volunteer more information.
Do not exaggerate any complaints or any point that you are trying to make. It will invariably be turned around and used against you. When discussing your injuries, freely admit the parts of your body that are not injured. However, do not fail to state your true and legitimate pains and problems. Your deposition is not the place to be brave. You must fully and completely describe your pain and tell about all of your injuries. Be truthful.
Don’t Be Misled By The Niceness of The Lawyer Asking The Questions
Remember that no matter how nice the other side’s lawyer may be to you at the deposition, he or she is there to discredit your testimony and set up ways to impeach you at trial and to damage or destroy your case. The lawyer works for the insurance company and will do anything possible to save the insurance company money. You can be friendly; however, do not be mislead by his or her niceness, as oftentimes this is just a way to get you to feel comfortable and open up. Also, avoid talking to the other side’s lawyer or the court reporter on breaks or while “off the record.”
Trust SouthShore Injury Attorneys With Your Florida Personal Injury Claim
It is equally important to ensure that you have a competent and qualified attorney representing you on your case and at your deposition. Not all attorneys are experienced in handling depositions or trials. The attorneys at SouthShore Injury Attorneys have extensive litigation experience and handle only personal injury claims. If you’ve suffered injuries in a Florida accident, contact SouthShore Injury Attorneys at (813) 419-3866 for a free consultation.
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