Have you been called upon to give your deposition in a case? If you are getting nervous, here’s how to handle a deposition, tackling difficult questions and making sure the truth is registered.
A deposition is a legal process in which a witness is examined by an opposing counsel who asks answers to questions related to the incidents of the case. Depositions happen prior to the actual trial, and they help all parties understand the facts of the case and what each witness knows.
Are you wondering how to handle a deposition? You should never lie while giving your response. You need to consider your answers carefully, collect your thoughts, and then answer to the best of your knowledge.
The opposing counsel may ask you questions that might make you angry or frustrated. You should control your emotions and behave politely in the courtroom. Let’s talk more about handling depositions.
What Is Deposition?
A deposition takes place before the actual trial. It’s purpose is to discover what the witness knows so that all parties are aware of what will be said in court and can prepare accordingly.
In a deposition, the deposed person is first asked to take an oath. Then the opposing counsel asks a series of questions related to the incident. A reporter records the complete deposition session either in audio or video, and later all the questions and responses are put in a booklet known as a transcript.
There is no judge present in a deposition session. The session takes place with the witness, the two parties of the case, and their attorneys in attendance. There is no fixed time for a deposition. It can take place for one day or may linger on for ten days as well.
Depositions take place in a lawyer’s office. The process may seem informal or unimportant, but you need to know that whatever answers you give are recorded and will be presented in court. So be honest and tell the complete truth while answering the question.
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What Is The Purpose Of Deposition?
The deposition is an opportunity for you to show the cause of illness, accident or injuries that have affected you badly.
Although the judge will not be there throughout the deposition session, the case may go to the court in some time. The judge will view your recorded deposition. If your answers in the court are different from the video or audio recordings of the deposition session, your defense attorney will have an opportunity to show the judge that you are contradicting your statements and that no one should believe your testimony.
Hence, the deposition is quite important. You should not answer the question in just yes or no tones. Try to speak the complete truth clearly so that later it may help you win the case.
The deposition will also help your attorney to evaluate your case thoroughly. He may be able to find out the strengths and weaknesses in your case. Some new information may also come through these question-answer sessions, which can help you win your case.
How Can I Prepare For Deposition?
It’s essential to prepare well before going to the deposition because your answers will be recorded and later shown in court. So, your answers need to be very clear.
Listing Down The Facts
The first and foremost thing you need to do is to list the issues you experienced so that it will refresh your memory and you can better speak in the deposition.
Let’s take an example. If you say that you find it hard to sleep at night, it is not enough. You have to describe the issues in detail with examples.
You can say that our back pain was so intense it made you wake up in the middle of the night. When you stepped out of your bed, you immediately felt a radiating pain in your left leg. You were trying to get the Tylenol but fell down because of intense pain. These are the kinds of details that you need to state to make a case.
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Going To The Deposition
Your next duty will be to meet your attorney so that you can describe your case, medical records, and other things. The attorney will review your documents and may give some advice about what things to wear or bring in the deposition. They might also offer some useful legal advice about answering questions.
Most lawyers advise their clients to come to the deposition with only their car keys and eyeglasses. If you bring your phone, then the opponent’s lawyer may check your SMS, calls, or email, which may help them with the case.
You should be neatly dressed while coming for a deposition. If you usually don’t wear a suit, then you don’t need to wear one. The dress should be neat and clean.
Don’t Be Nervous
Thirdly you need to be completely relaxed while going to the deposition. The deposition will be challenging and stressful because the opposing counsel will ask several questions regarding your case. He may ask specific questions which may hurt.
But you don’t need to be nervous. You should be calm and relaxed throughout the session. Try to do breathing exercises or yoga before going to the deposition. You can listen to your favorite music to remain stress-free in the deposition.
What Not To Do In A Deposition?
The deposition is not meant to convince the opposing counsel about your truth. You should not try to prove your skills or how good is your claim. Do not argue with the opposing lawyer. You need to be honest and answer the questions truthfully.
You need to explain the incident to the opposing counsel in simple words. Don’t think about winning the case while answering questions. Simultaneously don’t lie or exaggerate things while answering the questions to win your case.
8 Rules On How To Answer Questions In A Deposition
I am listing a few points you need to follow while answering questions in a deposition.
#1. Listen To The Questions Properly
You need to first understand the question before answering it. Have you ever observed a conversation in which one person asks a question to another person, and the other person replies with answers that are not related to the question?
It means the other person has not heard the question properly, has not understood, or does not bother to think about it before opening his mouth. It could also mean that the other person is trying to divert the person asking, which could be interpreted as an attempt to hide the facts.
The same thing can happen in a deposition if you don’t understand the questions and start answering without thinking. The first thing you need to do is calm your nerves and listen and understand each word in the question.
If you cannot understand any word or have not listened properly, then request the opposing counsel to repeat the question. You should answer only after understanding the question properly.
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#2. Don’t Give Confidence To The Opposing Counsel
You should control your emotions while answering your questions. For example, if the questions have made you angry, then you need to control your anger and answer the questions politely.
You need to remember that you will be asked questions which can make you frustrated or angry. You need to have the power to control emotions in stressful situations, especially in a deposition. Otherwise, you are letting the opposing counsel think that they can safely take your case to a trial since they can frustrate you in front of a judge.
#3. Don’t Overestimate The Opposing Counsel
The opposing party’s attorney will behave in the deposition as if he is very powerful and ask you questions that are very complicated. But you should not be frightened by tough questions. In reality, he doesn’t have any powers. He is trained to ask you difficult questions that will make you angry or frustrate you.
#4. You Can Ask For A Break
A deposition may take a few hours. If your case is complicated and your deposition is crucial, your deposition can last for more than a couple of hours. In that time, if you find that the opponent’s attorney is turning pages or getting ready to ask some more questions, you can ask for a break.
Go outside and stretch your hands and legs. If possible, take some sips of water. Relax your mind within a few minutes, and then return for deposition. You will feel much better. It will calm your nerves.
#5. You Are Free To Say That You Don’t Know The Answer
If you are asked a question and you don’t know that answer, then say that you don’t know. There is nothing to be ashamed in saying this. You are being honest and have told the truth to the attorney.
If you guess and reply something to the questions that are not sure off, it can affect your case. Remember your answers are recorded in the deposition, which the judge when the case goes to trial.
Imagine you are standing in the witness box, and your answers deviate from the answers you had casually given in the deposition. That can create a problem in your case. So, I will suggest you answer questions only if you are confident.
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#6. Don’t Answer Leading Questions
The opposing attorney will try to ask many questions in the deposition that will lead you on towards answers that they want you to say. They will try to extract answers which will be in their favor in the trial.
But you do not need to comply with this. You need to listen to the question carefully, understand it, and answer it only if you know the answer. Keep the answers limited to your experience, and don’t speculate on things you are not sure about.
If your lawyer raises an objection to any question, you need to listen very carefully and understand what they are trying to avoid. But don’t be rude to the opposing counsel. You can speak up if he is misinterpreting you while asking questions.
#7. You Need To Answer Questions On Your Own Pace
You need to remember that there is no rapid-fire round in the deposition. Whenever the opposing attorney asks you a question, take a few seconds, collect your thoughts, and answer.
#8. You Can Ask The Attorney To Rephrase The Question If You Do Not Understand
Your opponent’s attorney may ask you some questions that you may not understand properly or are not 100 percent sure o. You need to ask the attorney to rephrase the question at that time. Don’t feel shy or insulted in doing so. Asking for rephrasing the question may help you in the deposition and trial.
What Happens After A Deposition?
The reporter in the court types the conversation in a stenography device which is later transcribed in English. It may take several days or months to complete the entire process.
#2. Review Of Transcription
Once the transcription is done, the copies are sent to you and your opponent. If there is a mistake in any statement, then you need to correct it at this stage. You have to discuss the mistake with your attorney so that there will not be any problem in the court.
#3. Your Statement Will Be Used As Evidence In The Court
Your statements or answers in the deposition are used s as evidence in the court.
#4. Settlement Of Dispute
The disposition may be the last stage for both the parties if they agree to a settlement.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Not Say During Deposition?
You should not Guess and answer the questions.
You should Not argue or be rude to the opponent’s attorney.
You should never be aggressive while answering the questions.
You should not say any lie or exaggerate your situation during deposition.
How Long Does A Deposition Take?
A deposition usually gets over within two hours. But if the case is complex, then the deposition may continue for more than two hours and even up to several days.
Can You Refuse To Give A Deposition?
If you won’t like to give a deposition, you can communicate with the judge. If you are formally requested to provide a deposition and refuse to give, you may pay the penalty for not obeying the court law.
A Few Final Words
A Deposition plays a vital role in the legal dispute process. So you should not take it lightly. The opponent’s lawyer will ask you several questions about the case, which may even hurt you.
But you need to control your emotions. Simultaneously, don’t behave rudely with the opponent’s attorney because it will adversely impact your case. Try to be polite and answer the questions honestly.
Thank you for reading the article. We hope we have covered everything related to deposition in this article.