In most lawsuits, there is a “discovery” stage where each side uncovers information about the dispute.
One technique for finding out information is to ask questions in a deposition.
If you were involved in a car accident, you will probably be deposed unless your case settles before then.
Most depositions are held in attorneys’ offices with a court reporter present. You will answer questions under oath.
Car accident depositions are really fishing expeditions, where the other side tries to find out what you know.
In some cases, the answers you give in a deposition might be introduced at trial, if your case ever gets that far.
Below, we offer our 10 best tips for how to handle a car accident deposition.
You shouldn’t go into a deposition without any idea of what is about to happen. Discuss the upcoming deposition with your attorney.
You might also need to review key documents from your cases, such as your written discovery answers, medical records, and the police report.
The goal isn’t to memorize what is contained in these documents but to refresh your memory.
2. Listen to the Question Asked
You shouldn’t answer any question that isn’t asked. Although every person deposed should answer fully, you don’t need to volunteer information when it isn’t requested. Listen to the question closely.
If you don’t understand the question, ask the attorney to repeat it or rephrase it.
3. Never Guess
There are many opportunities in a car accident deposition to guess. Resist the urge.
If you don’t know how far away the other car was when you first saw it, don’t blurt out, “Six feet.” If you are asked to provide an estimate, you can. Remember to clarify your answer with, “In my estimation…”
If you truly don’t know the answer to a question, say so.
4. Avoid Humor
Some people like to tell jokes when they are nervous. But a car accident deposition probably isn’t the place.
Also, you don’t know how your humor will come across in print. All kinds of nuances are lost in a typed answer—inflection, gestures, etc. You might come across as snide when you didn’t mean to.
5. Get Enough Sleep the Night Before
A car accident deposition can take hours, especially if your case is complicated. You want to be fully rested before heading in.
You should also make sure to have a full breakfast so that you are not hungry.
6. Ask for a Break, if You Need One
If you feel the deposition for a car accident is taking a long time, you should speak to your attorney, who can request a break.
You can then go to the bathroom, get something to eat or drink, or just take 10 minutes to recharge.
7. Maintain Calm
Many depositions are uneventful, with opposing counsel behaving very professionally. However, some lawyers have a short fuse and might become aggressive or badgering.
It is easy to get frustrated when an attorney acts inappropriately. Your own lawyer will probably lodge objections for the record, but you will still have to do the best you can.
Remember to always remain calm, even if the subject is an emotional one.
8. Always Tell the Truth
There is no reason to fear the truth, but many good reasons to fear a lie. If you bend the truth, you could get into trouble since you are testifying under oath.
Also, you will lose credibility with the judge if he or she finds out you lied during the deposition. Instead, always tell the truth.
9. Communicate with Words
It’s hard for the court reporter to put down “uh-huh” or “um.” People don’t even know what you are trying to communicate.
Remember that gestures are also not recorded, so use words to express yourself. Don’t just nod or shake your head.
10. Review Documents before Testifying about Them
A lawyer might hand you a document so you can talk about. Take the time to review it thoroughly so you know what is contained in it. This will help you answer accurately.
Don’t just glance over the document, and never be rushed by an attorney.
Contact Platte River Injury Law after a Car Accident
This is our 11th tip, but it might be the most important. Devastating accidents warrant serious compensation. If you were injured in a wreck, reach out to our law firm today.
We can help you understand what to expect in a deposition for a car accident and handle all other legal work for you, such as negotiating a fair and full settlement with an insurance company.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.