How do I prepare for my deposition in my Maryland accident case?
Your deposition is an important component of your personal injury claim. Seeing as the majority of personal injury cases settle out of court, this might be your only chance to testify about the facts of the case. In the event your case goes to trial, your deposition can be used to contradict any testimony given in court. As such, it is important that you answer questions truthfully, completely and accurately.
Your deposition is unlikely to take place soon after the personal injury. Considering the time lapse, your attorney will hold a pre-deposition meeting with you to help you prepare. Your lawyer will ask questions to put you at ease and familiarize you with the process and will then move into detailed questions about the accident, your injuries and your recover. You will need to be able to state concisely the degree of your injuries and how they have limited your activities of daily living, if they have. In other words, how your injuries have effected your life moving forward.
Typically, depositions are held in a law firm’s conference room. Before the opposing lawyer asks you questions, a court reporter will swear you in as if you were going to testify in court. Apart from learning about the facts of the case, lawyers (and insurance agents) take the deposition as an opportunity to gauge how you will appear to a jury, including your credibility and demeanor.
In preparation for your deposition, consider the following tips.
- First and most important, answer questions truthfully (to the best of your knowledge). Expect the opposing attorney to ask you the same questions numerous times. Any contradictions will surface as he re-asks questions different ways. Your lawyer will protect you from some of this but for the most part, defense counsel can do this.
- Provide short answers to questions posed. Succinct responses mean no longer than a sentence or a mere “Yes” or “No.” Do not try to help opposing counsel formulate a question. Do not volunteer information.
- Do not be scared to say, “I don’t remember.” If you do not understand a question, say you do not. If you do not know the answer to a question, say you do not know. Some questions might call for saying, “that’s all I can think of right now.” As opposed to responding to a question with a simple yes or no, some questions might call for adding, “As far as I can recall.” This prevents you from being locked in to an answer if you remember more information later. If a question requires you to estimate or guess, say, “I’m estimating” or “I’m guessing.”
- Dress suitably as if you are going to a job interview. Therefore, if you have jewelry in unconventional areas, such as eyebrows or tongue, remove it. Cover up tattoos if possible. The intent is not to divert anyone’s attention from the facts of the case. Plan what you will wear, and shower, shave and get a trim.
- Be ready to describe your injuries. Do not embellish or diminish the extent of your injuries. Be candid. State if the pain is acute, sporadic, constant, tender or dull. Allocate a number to your pain from a scale of 1 to 10.
- Be mindful of how you are conducting yourself at all times. Be respectful and courteous while being deposed. Never be combative, angry, antagonistic or sarcastic. Remember, the lawyer questioning you is also trying to determine how likeable and truthful you will appear to a jury or judge.
- Make sure you rest and eat appropriately the night before your deposition. In the morning, eat breakfast. A deposition is taxing, and you may experience some anxiety. Your body and mind is likely to perform better with proper sustenance. During the deposition, do not be afraid to ask for a break to stretch, to use the washroom, to get a snack or refreshment or to get some fresh air.
Ultimately, good preparation can help ease some of the anxiety or stress you might experience at a deposition. To diminish surprises, feel free to ask your lawyer any questions that you may have about the process.