When you are seriously injured in a car crash or industrial incident, and you have to file a lawsuit, you will probably have to give a deposition at some point. What is a deposition? How do you prepare for a deposition? What should be on the lookout for in your deposition?
Your Louisiana attorney is the best source for instructions and information about preparing for your deposition. In St. Charles Parish, I advise my clients on the ins and outs of the deposition process and what to expect.
A deposition is a formal legal proceeding where you are sworn to tell the truth and your testimony is taken. It generally occurs at your lawyer’s office or another office, not in court. The deposition is basically a question-and-answer session with attorneys in the case asking you questions and you providing answers. The questions and answers along with all other conversations are transcribed by a court reporter and are sometimes videoed.
Depositions are usually taken of you, the defendant(s), and other witnesses (including doctors, experts, and others). The purpose is to obtain sworn statements and information about the case – details of the incident, details of the injury, details of damages, etc.
How to Prepare For Your Deposition
You should meet with your injury lawyer well before the deposition for preparation. Depending on the complexity of your case, the preparation can take anywhere from an hour or two to multiple hours or even days.
A quick note about dress and behavior. You should dress appropriately like you are going to court - no T-shirts or shorts, club wear, dirty/torn clothing or hats. This is especially important if the deposition is videoed. You need to be mindful of your mannerisms, posture and how you conduct yourself. These non-verbal cues can reveal a lot about you and can impact your credibility.
Questions to Prepare For Before your Deposition
When discussing depositions with my St. Charles Parish clients, I often talk about the questions they should expect. Your Louisiana personal injury attorney should discuss this with you as well. Some common deposition questions will revolve around the following:
- The details of the accident (date, time, where you were going, what you remember, what did you see, what were you doing, etc.)
- The details of your injury (when did it start, what treatment you receive, what doctors you see, how you deal with the injury, any prior injury, etc.)
- The details of your other financial losses (missed time from work, medical expenses, etc.)
- Other areas that have been affected (hobbies, relationships, household activities, etc.)
How to Respond
Before your deposition, you should try to think through how to behave and respond. Prepare yourself mentally to be called a liar, an exaggerator, a malingerer, and someone who is just trying to hit the lawsuit lottery. Know that the defense counsel will likely try to make you feel this way so that they can get you to say or do things out of character and use it against you. Regardless of how you are treated, try to remain calm, collected, and let your attorney stick up for you. Remember these tips:
- Do not get angry – Showing any hostility means you’re more likely to get flustered and say something without thinking. The other attorney may try to provoke you into an argument so it’s important to remain calm and control what you say.
- Do not guess – Don’t answer a question unless you are certain what the attorney means. Ask them to clarify if you don’t completely understand what they are asking. Tell the truth – not what you think the attorney wants to hear!
- Do not volunteer information – Answer all questions in concise statements, as the more you say, the more likely you are to volunteer potentially damaging information.
- Do wait for the attorney to finish the question – Take a moment to consider what the attorney just asked you and prepare your answer. Speaking without first thinking raises your risk of saying something you may regret.
What are common tricks?
Your New Orleans personal injury lawyer should be familiar with some of the trick questions defense attorneys ask to try to get damaging statements out of witnesses. Trick questions are often misleading or confusing. You should remember you always have the right to ask for clarification before answering.
Some typical trick questions you may get at your deposition include:
- Compound questions – Two questions joined into one.
- Questions that assume facts that are not true – For example; “Can you describe what happened after the car in front of you hit the brakes?” would be a dangerous question to answer if the car did not, in fact, hit the brakes.
- Summary questions – Questions that attempt to summarize your previous testimony, often hiding damaging or untrue statements within the key points.
- Questions asking for exact figures – If the attorney asks for the exact speed you were going or the exact time it was when your accident occurred, answer in estimates, not solid figures unless you can prove the concrete numbers.
Before you talk to the insurance companies, or submit to a deposition or examination under oath, you need to speak with a Louisiana personal injury attorney. Loyd J. Bourgeois stands ready to help. Contact us to schedule your FREE legal consultation – (985) 240-9773.