We see people testify all the time on courtroom dramas, but not all testimony is given on the witness stand at trial. Before a trial ever takes place, lawyers from both sides are able to interview potential witnesses as part of the discovery process.
If you are required to give a deposition as part of a personal injury claim, here are some tips for how to testify at a deposition.
The best way to have a successful deposition is to know what to expect. Hopefully, you’ve been briefed on the process by your attorney (see next heading), so that you’ll be comfortable at the deposition.
While some depositions can be weird or confrontational, the majority are just fact-finding exercises. So gather and review any relevant documents so you’ll be familiar with the facts.
And dress comfortably and professionally — while there are no formal wardrobe rules, a deposition could last all day or longer in a law office with attorneys present and cameras rolling, so dress accordingly.
You have the right to an attorney during a deposition. If it is your injury claim, your attorneys will be attending automatically, and should have already prepared you for the deposition. If you’re being called as a witness, you can request your own legal counsel to represent you. An experienced attorney can advise you on the deposition process and how to respond to questions.
All depositions are recorded in some way, and often deposition witnesses are sworn in before answering questions. Therefore your words can make or break your case.
If you lie or if you’re uncooperative during a deposition, the other party’s lawyers could use this against you later in court and make all your testimony look untruthful. So even if the answer may sounds bad for your injury claim, honesty is always the best policy during a deposition. Most attorneys will tell you not to volunteer information, just answer the exact question asked. But don’t lie. Good luck!
Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
After a Deposition, What Happens Next? (FindLaw’s Injured)
3 Things You Should Never Do at a Deposition (FindLaw’s Greedy Associates)
5 Tips If You’re Subpoenaed for a Deposition (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)