Before your deposition, you should understand what a deposition is, what it is used for, and what you should and shouldn’t do. This will help you feel more prepared for a process that many people find stressful.
A deposition is the other side’s opportunity to ask you questions while you are sworn to tell the truth. It’s a lot like giving testimony at a court trial, but depositions happen in a conference room instead of a courtroom. There’s no judge, but there is a court reporter who takes down everything that everyone says. After your deposition, the court reporter will compile the testimony into a booklet called a transcript.
The lawyers on either side of the case may use the transcript as evidence in a pretrial motion that asks the court to decide your case without a trial. They may also use it at trial. Your lawyer may use your deposition testimony to refresh your memory about something you have forgotten. The lawyer on the other side may use your deposition to point out inconsistencies in your testimony.
Here are 10 things to know before depositions in car accident lawsuits in Atlanta:
- Be prepared. Get familiar with what’s in your medical records (your lawyer should have them), including any injuries or conditions you had before the accident. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a decent breakfast.
- Dress for success.You’ll make a better impression if you are neat and well-groomed. Consider covering tattoos. It’s a good idea to wear clothes that would be appropriate for a job interview.
- Tell the truth.Don’t make things up or add to your story to make yourself look better. You are under oath, and if you are caught in a lie you could undermine your whole case.
- It is okay to say you don’t know or don’t remember. Nobody is perfect. If you don’t remember or don’t know the answer to a question, just say so. Resist the urge to guess in order to seem helpful. You will probably do yourself more harm than good.
- If you don’t understand a question or a word the lawyer uses, don’t be afraid to say so. No one wants to feel dumb, but when you answer a question without knowing what it means, you may end up giving an answer that’s the exact opposite of what you meant.
- Listen carefully, then pause and think before answering questions. That way you are less likely to say something you will regret later. If the lawyer tries to trap you into answering “yes” or “no” to something that isn’t exactly a yes or no question, find an answer that gives you some wiggle room, such as, “As far as I recall, no.”
- If your lawyer makes an objection, wait before you answer. You’ve probably seen lawyers make objections in courtroom shows on TV. Lawyers may also object during a deposition, but there is no judge to rule on them. Still, your lawyer may tell you not to answer the question, or the other lawyer may ask it again in a different way. Let your lawyer give you the cue on when it’s time for you to answer.
- Don’t give the other lawyer information he or she didn’t ask for. Resist the urge to be helpful and keep your answers short and to the point. Your lawyer will have a chance to ask you questions too, and he or she can cover anything that needs a more complete explanation from you.
- Help the court reporter create an accurate transcript:speak clearly and always answer questions verbally, not by shaking or nodding your head or saying uh-huh.
- Don’t overdo it. A deposition can be upsetting, exhausting, and emotionally draining. If you need to take a break for any reason, say so.
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