WASHINGTON, April 12, 2012 – Are you involved in a lawsuit? If so, it is likely you will be called for a deposition. A deposition is a session with the other side’s attorney (your attorney will be there and will have prepared you) where you are asked questions, many of which do not appear reasonable or related to anything at all. Courts allow attorneys great range in asking questions at depositions. The theory is that even if something is not relevant, it may lead to relevant information.
At the very beginning of the deposition, you will be sworn in, where you affirm to tell the truth. The deposition will be recorded, and later your answers can be used in court.
My legal practice involves handling injury claims. Here are some general concepts for a deposition in this type of case.
It is normal, and actually from my view expected, that you might be a bit nervous, and wondering how this all works. You should know that your attorney will explain the process to you and advise you that your job, really simply, is to tell the truth. You will provide an honest assessment of your injury, the manner in which it occurred, what injuries you suffered, and their effect on you.
It is the defense attorney who will be taking your deposition. He or she will have several goals in taking your deposition. Clearly, first is to obtain information. Next, the defense attorney wants to assess the information you provide, and to assess you. If the defense attorney can “shake you up” in the deposition, he or she will feel emboldened and then, they will evaluate your case financially less than otherwise. Remember that truth is important, but being in a courtroom is also about impressions.
A few pointers for you should help.
Answer the question and stop. Do not explain. Your job is comparable to a computer: information in, information out. What color was the traffic light? The answer is one word, not a discussion of where you were going, the time of day, what your child was doing in the back seat, etc. You are only under an obligation to truthfully answer the lawyer’s questions. Do not go beyond answering the question asked. You may want to explain, but unless you are asked another question, do not explain anything. Your lawyer’s job is to explain and convince once you are in trial.
Do not guess at answers. If you do not know the answer, your response should be that you do not know, or, perhaps, that you forgot. This is both honest, and prevents possibly untrue or incomplete information being provided by you, information that could hurt you later if your answer is actually wrong.
Next, understand that you must answer all reasonable questions, even if you do not understand why they are being asked or if you think they are not relevant to your claim. Your medical history, any history of prior accidents or injuries, your work and wage history, even your activity profile before and after the injury, are all fair questions.
Finally, you should neither exaggerate nor under-state your situation. A frank, and an honest assessment and statement by you will pay the greatest dividends.
No matter what type of situation you are in that brought you into the legal arena, understand that sometimes, bad things happen to good people.
Take a deep breath, talk to your lawyer, and always tell the truth.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics. Paul is the featured legal analyst on the Washington Times Radio, on the Andy Parks show, on Wednesdays at 5:15 P.M., and he is a columnist on the Washington Times Communities.
His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.
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