Hey everyone and welcome to another Ted Talk Tuesday.
Today I’m going to be talking about depositions.
I’ve had questions from clients all the time, asking about depositions. If it’s going to happen when it’s going to happen. I’m going to be going over all that today, as well as some rules that I always tell my clients that help in depositions.
First, deposition takes place after the claim is in litigation. This means that the complaint has been filed and the lawsuit is in full force. Depositions are part of the discovery phase of litigation. That’s where both sides are trying to obtain information and evidence, that can help their arguments or hurt the other side’s arguments.
Deposition allows the attorneys to get information directly from a party or from someone who has some knowledge of the incident or can explain things. That means it could be a witness, it could be a treating doctor, it could be someone like an expert who knows how the incident caused the injuries it did, because that may be in dispute as well.
Now, there are three golden rules I always tell my clients to walk away with when they are in preparing for their deposition:
You are taking an oath that if you don’t tell the truth, you could be committing perjury and that could come back and make you liable for a lot of things you don’t want to be. So, make sure you tell the truth. Don’t intentionally give false information and just be honest
If you don’t understand the question and you answer it, you could be getting information that could be hurting your case and helping the case against you. So. make sure you understand the question. Ask the other attorney, “I don’t understand the question, can you repeat it?”, “I don’t understand what that word means, can you define that?”, “Can you rephrase the question?” Anything to make sure you understand the question, because if you don’t understand the question and you answer it, no one is going to know you don’t understand except you. So, it’s important to understand the question.
And the last golden rule…
Now, I get questions all the time from “What does that mean?”, “If they ask questions, aren’t I supposed to be explaining things?”, “This is my time to tell my story” it’s not! This is the time for the other attorney to get as much information as possible. So, if they as you questions as simple as “Yes or No” questions, you give a “Yes or No” answer, that’s it! If they ask you, “Did you go to high school?” – Yes or No. They are not asking about your mascot, who your prom date was, what year you graduated, what high school you went to? they’re not asking any of that. To a “Yes or No” question, they get a “Yes or No” answer, that’s it! Do they want that information? they’ll ask. Shouldn’t give it up freely, shouldn’t give it up easily. Make sure that you keep the answer brief and that you are answering the question being asked and nothing else.
Now, lastly. This is not a golden rule, but this is an important thing that’s been coming up lately, especially with remote depositions: ATTIRE. I always tell my clients to wear what I call “Church Clothes”. That’s clothes you’d wear to church on Sunday, Why? because you want to look presentable for the other side. You may not like them, they may be working against you, but you want to look presentable. These video depositions could be put in front of a jury one day. If you are wearing a wifebeater or an undershirt, something that is not presentable, it could come back and hurt your case. So please, make sure you look presentable, act professional, and make sure you answer those questions and listen to the Golden Rules that I just repeated – Be honest, understand the question and answer the questions being asked, and nothing else.
If you have any questions about depositions or anything I’ve talked about before, don’t hesitate, give me a call at (888) 6-THE-LAW.