1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. It’s critical that you take time to prepare for your deposition, both with the attorney and on your own. Since most cases settle before trial, this may be your only chance to tell your story. How well you do in your deposition often has a significant impact on the settlement value of your case, so it’s important to do well. Review your written discovery responses, medical records and other documents from your case. Think about how to tell your story of how the accident happened and its impact on your life. Know what your legal claims are and what defenses will be raised. Be ready to tell your story and make a good impression.

2. Try to make a good impression. Since the lawyer is evaluating your credibility and likeability, try to make a favorable impression. Try not to get angry or annoyed. It is okay to get genuinely emotional during your testimony. One of the Deposition goals is to have the attorney leave the Deposition understanding what a nice, likeable and credible person you are.

3. Listen to the question and understand it before you answer. Sometimes lawyers ask questions that don’t make sense. Before you can answer a question truthfully, you must understand it. Don’t be shy about asking the lawyer to repeat or rephrase a question.

4. Help the Court Reporter. Your testimony will be transcribed by a Court Reporter. This can be done accurately only if you wait for the question to be finished before you start to answer. Also, your answers must be verbal (no head shaking or nodding) and understandable: say yes or no, not uh huh.

5. Be accurate and don’t guess. Sometimes telling the truth and being accurate mean saying “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Often witnesses feel that they should know the answer or remember the answer, so under the stress of the moment they make up an answer. Don’t do that. If you don’t know or don’t remember, say so. If you are asked about dates, times, distances, speeds or other specific questions, don’t guess at the answer. If you can approximate or give ranges, do that, but always make it clear that you are approximating by saying: approximately, about, between X and Y, etc.

6. Look at documents and read them before testifying about them. Documents are often used in Depositions such as other documents from the lawsuit, police reports, photographs, medical records, pay stubs, tax returns, etc. If you are asked to answer questions about a document, take time to look at it and read it before you start answering questions about it.

7. If you are uncomfortable or have a questions, ask for a break. If you get tired, confused or need to talk to your attorney, don’t be shy about asking for a break.

8. Correct yourself or add information. If later in the Deposition you realize that you made a mistake in prior testimony or need to add something, tell your lawyer that you need to do so. Then, the testimony can be corrected or supplemented so that the transcript is completely truthful and accurate.

9. Be careful about giving absolute answers unless you are sure. Defense attorneys may try to catch you in a contradiction by asking you about prior injuries, accidents or medical treatment. They will often ask whether you’ve been injured in a prior accident or have had prior medical treatment. Be careful about giving absolute answers unless you’re sure you are right. It’s very damaging to your case to testify that you’ve never been in a car accident or never have had any neck pain or treatment and then have the defense uncover proof that you are not being truthful When in doubt, use less absolute answers.

10. Tell the truth. Again, it is critically important that your testimony be 100% truthful. You are under an oath to tell the truth just like you would be in court. Remember that the Internet allows attorneys to research and verify many things. Subpoenas can also be used to uncover information about your past and surveillance can be used to monitor your activities. Being caught having said something inaccurate, intentional or not, can hurt or kill your case. Honesty is truly the best policy.

  1. April 26, 2019

    Is it a requirement to have a 30 minute preparation before a deposition?

  2. January 29, 2020

    My son, husband, and I will be giving a deposition this Friday. It concerns the death of the husbands mother, Bette. Her granddaughter (my husbands niece) moved in with Bette and took over her finances. She spent all of Bette’s savings and when told by an adult protection person what her granddaughter had done the granddaughter kidnapped Bette. My husband got a call saying Bette was missing. We didn’t know where she was and didn’t know until my husband got a call from out of state with the news that his mother had died. From what we were told Bette had escaped from the trailer she and the granddaughter were living in. Bette was taken to the hospital were she died. The autopsy showed Bette had various illegal drugs in her system. She had dog bites, and bruises. The granddaughter has been in jail for over a year charged with Kidnapping and Murder 2.
    What kind of questions will we be asked?
    Thank you.

  3. May 11, 2020

    Can you recommend a personal injury attorney in Oregon, or can you practice in Oregon ?? I was in a near fatal motorcycle accident avoiding several bicycle riders that were sitting idle, around a corner. My case involves Deschutes County for a road hazard that caused my injuries (bilat broken femurs – one compound, broken neck C-1 and C-2, fx skull, crushed pelvis, 7 broken teeth and 7 units of blood lost before arriving at a trauma center. My case involves a doctor for malpractice at the scene. My case involves a deputy sheriff that did not do a proper accident report. My case involves the bicycle riders leaving me critically injured by the side of the road and taking off.

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