If your circumstances (for example, an accident, work injury, slip and fall, medical malpractice, etc.) have you caught up in a lawsuit, you just might find yourself bewildered by all the legal rules, verbiage, and procedures. If you’ve never been exposed to litigation before, don’t worry. This is normal.
We have found what helps many of our clients is when they have a fairly good understanding of the process—what’s going on, what to expect, and how they can prepare for it. So in today’s post, we want to discuss depositions and give you a few tips for getting ready if you have to have your deposition taken.
What It Is.
Not all cases require you to have your deposition taken, but many do.
A deposition is a tool that is used as part of the “discovery” process in litigation. In civil cases (not criminal) the law promotes fairness and doing away with “surprise” at trial by allowing both sides to “discover” as much as possible about the other side’s case. The idea behind this process, (called “discovery”) is to promote settlement by allowing both sides to know as much as possible about the facts and what witnesses will testify to at trial.
One of the discovery tools used to find out what a witness (whether a party, a party witness or an expert) will testify to at trial is by taking his or her deposition.
A deposition is simply taking the sworn testimony of a witness before trial.
Although depositions are not taken before a judge in a courtroom (they are generally in held in the offices of one of the lawyers) nevertheless the witness’ testimony is sworn to under oath and is subject to a penalty of perjury. The witness’ testimony is taken down by a court reporter. They can also be videotaped.
Because your deposition is your sworn testimony and can be used in court if necessary, it is important that you give your “best” testimony at your deposition, just like you would in court.
How To Prepare for Your Deposition.
In addition to making sure that you don’t drink or take any (recreational) drugs before your deposition and that you try to get a good night’s sleep, here are two tips to help you get ready.
- Read the Documents.
Of course, you will meet with your attorney before your deposition is taken and he will walk you through the process and prepare you for the questions you will be asked. However, it is also important that you take the time to prepare for your deposition on your own as well.
Generally, in most cases, you will have documents, like medical records or police reports, and prior written discovery responses, to support your claims. If so, you will want to review the documents in your case so you are familiar with them. Keep in mind that when you are testifying, you are swearing to the facts (as you recall them) under oath. You don’t have to know every single detail or have perfect recall, but your testimony needs to be as credible and as accurate as possible. Reviewing the documents beforehand can help you to be well-prepared.
- Speak Clearly.
Because most depositions are held in an informal setting (a lawyer’s office, a conference room, etc.) people often forget that the need to speak up and speak clearly so that the court reporter—who is taking down what you say—gets it right.
Bear in mind that the testimony you give in your case is very important. Deposition transcripts can be used at trial or in motions made to the judge, so you want to be sure that the court reporter can hear what you are saying.
You will get a chance to review your written transcript and change any errors, but if you change your testimony, you will have to explain why.
Finally, first, last, and always, tell the truth.
Experience, Dedication, and Commitment.
At the Day Law Group, we help Louisiana residents who have been injured due to the negligence of another. We are personal injury, workers’ compensation, maritime, car accident, trucking accident, and Mesothelioma attorneys. We offer free consultations and for most cases, we do not get paid unless you win your case. Contact us ToDay or call (225) 465-1232.