As a plaintiff in a lawsuit, you may have to give a deposition. A deposition will record your sworn, out-of-court testimony. The opposing attorney will primarily be asking the questions, and your answers will be recorded by a court reporter. Depositions are a critical point during any lawsuit as the testimony you give can be used at trial or for other purposes during the litigation. Therefore, it is important to prepare beforehand for your deposition. Below are five tips to remember when getting ready for your deposition.
- TELL THE TRUTH. During a deposition, you are under oath just as you would be during a trial. Trying to mislead or lie during a deposition could hurt or kill your case, not to mention it is illegal. Therefore, always be sure to tell the truth when being deposed.
- “I DON’T KNOW” IS AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER. Sometimes telling the truth means answering a question with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Many plaintiffs being deposed want to provide as much information as possible to the attorney questioning them; this is human nature. However, you should never speculate or assume. Only provide the information you are sure is accurate and based on your personal knowledge. If you don’t know an answer, say so.
- ONLY ANSWER THE QUESTION ASKED. Many times plaintiffs will give long, rambling answers to questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Long-winded answers can only help the opposing attorney. Listen very carefully to each question asked, and be sure to concisely answer only that question.
- TAKE YOUR TIME. Depositions can be intimidating and nerve-racking. The opposing attorney may try to ask confusing questions, but a deposition is not a race or a memory contest. Take your time, listen to each question, pause, think, and answer the question truthfully and succinctly. Also, feel free to ask for a break at any time.
- DRESS APPROPRIATELY. While you are being deposed to answer questions about your case, the opposing attorney is also evaluating your strengths as a witness in front of a jury. Dress the part. Typically, business casual dress is satisfactory. Be aware that the things you say and do at a deposition, both on and off the record, could affect the strength and value of your lawsuit.
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