Watch Out for these Traps and Pitfalls during Your Deposition
Often times, an accident victim is called to testify out-of-court by the opposing side. This out-of-court testimony is known as a deposition. Deposition testimony can be very important, and can have a serious impact on your case. If you do well during your deposition, it may improve your case. But if you do poorly, it will almost certainly harm your case. Watch out for these traps and pitfalls common in depositions of injured victims:
- Summaries of Testimony– It is common for opposing counsel to ask you several questions, and then towards the conclusion of your testimony, try to summarize your answers to those questions in a few words. After completing this “summary” opposing counsel will then ask you if his/her summary is correct. Be careful with these summaries. Most of the time, these “summaries” have left out a very important fact or key point. Listen very closely to the summary, and make sure that it is factually accurate and that it includes everything you testified about. If something is incorrect or missing, make sure you state on the record what is incorrect or what is missing to make the summary a true summary.
- Broad Questions– Opposing counsel like to use broad questions to generate long rambling answers that reveal previously unknown facts. Don’t make opposing counsel’s job easier. Keep your answers clear, brief, and to the point. If opposing counsel wants more information about a particular point, let him/her do their job by asking follow up questions.
- Rudeness and Anger– some lawyers like to act rude towards a deponent, making suggestions that they are incompetent, unbelievable, or trying to hide something. Others express anger towards a deponent when they are not getting the response they had hoped for. Be careful here. Often times, the lawyer is simply trying to get under your skin in hopes that they can generate a rude or angry response from you. Remember that everything said in a deposition is being written down by a court reporter. Never let opposing counsel get under your skin. Always keep your cool. Let the lawyers look like the idiot for being mean and rude.
- Absolute questions– Watch out for absolute questions that include terms like never, always, all the time, etc. These are used to try to pin you down, and hit you with a discrepancy later.
- Questions about Documents– Be careful whenever answering questions about something contained in a particular document, like a police report or medical record. Always demand to see the document before you answer any questions related to it. If defense cannot produce the document, simply state that you cannot answer the question related to the document without seeing the document.
The information contained in this blog post is general information, and should not be treated as legal advice. No attorney/client relationship exists between the reader and Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC without a signed Attorney Contract Agreement of Representation. Each case is unique and past results should not be treated as a guarantee of the results in your case.