How To Prepare for a Deposition
September 21, 2023 | Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers | Personal Injury
In a personal injury case, a deposition is a Q&A session between you and the opposing party’s lawyer. It can only take place after you have filed a lawsuit and commenced the pretrial discovery process.
That doesn’t mean you can’t eventually settle your lawsuit. In fact, you probably will. Of course, your lawyer can depose the other side’s witnesses, too. While you are being deposed, however, it is you who will be on the hot seat.
Depositions: The Setting and the Players
A deposition typically takes place in the conference room of the office of the opposing party’s lawyer. The parties are:
- You, since you are the one answering the questions (under oath).
- The opposing party’s lawyer, the person who will cross-examine you.
- Your lawyer, who will advise you during the deposition. Your lawyer will also object to any inappropriate questions or comments from the opposing party’s lawyer;
- The opposing party (optional).
- The court stenographer, to record everything that is said during the deposition.
- A videographer, should you choose to record the deposition (which is a very good idea).
One conspicuously absent party will be the judge. The absence of the judge means there will be nobody to rule on your attorney’s objections. That’s okay, however, because the court stenographer can record any objections. The judge can also exclude any inappropriate testimony if your case ends up at trial.
Scope of Questioning
A lawyer has much more leeway to ask questions at a deposition than at a trial. At a trial, a lawyer can only ask questions that call for answers that are admissible under the Florida Evidence Code.
At a deposition, an attorney can ask you any question that is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The lawyer cannot compel you to answer certain types of questions, however.
Advice on How To Prepare for a Deposition
It is important that you observe certain principles during a deposition — otherwise, you could damage or even destroy your claim.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Have your lawyer play the role of the opposing party’s lawyer; tell them to grill you mercilessly. Practice your deposition time and time again, and advise your lawyer to be absolutely brutal with you, seizing on anything you might say that they can use against you. This is what will prepare you for what you will have at your deposition.
Always Tell the Truth
Lying about an important matter while under oath can get you sent to prison for perjury. Even if it doesn’t, the opposing party’s lawyer will exploit your dishonesty to the maximum possible extent.
Don’t Volunteer Any Unnecessary Information
Honesty is one thing; candor is another. Do not answer any question that the lawyer doesn’t ask you. Listen carefully to every question. Fully answer exactly what is asked, but don’t volunteer any information that the lawyer didn’t ask you. “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer if it’s true.
Hostile lawyers love to question parties who lose their cool, as it’s easy to pressure them into a mistake that way. Keep your cool, and don’t allow yourself to get angry, flustered, or confused. Take your time to answer questions just to make sure you have time to recover your emotional stability before answering a question.
Don’t Joke or Respond With Sarcasm
Joking during a deposition is like joking that there’s a bomb in your luggage at the airport. It will be taken seriously, and you could get into a lot of trouble.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Offer You Far More Advice
The foregoing advice does little more than scratch the surface of how you need to prepare for a deposition. If you are facing a deposition, you definitely need a personal injury lawyer to help you prepare for it. Don’t try to handle one on your own.
Contact a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer from Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today
For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Tampa today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #200, Port Richey, FL 34652
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805