Were you injured in a Virginia car accident, and you’ve filed a lawsuit. Are you now being told by your attorney that you’ve got a deposition coming up and you’re not sure what to think. Don’t worry, in our view, your deposition is your opportunity to demonstrate to the insurance company that you’re a great witness and you were really injured.
While you should always follow your attorney’s guidance, here’s our Top 10 Rules for Your Deposition.
1. Answer the question – Honestly.
If you were injured in a Virginia accident, and you’re making a valid claim, then truth is on your side. So, be honest. Even if you think the answer might hurt you, your job at a deposition is to be truthful.
If you’re not honest, the chances of it coming back to bite you are high. You may not see it right away, but you’ll likely learn it the hard way.
At Abrenio Law, we represent people who make honest claims. If there’s a bad fact in their case, we will be upfront about it and address it. Thinking that you can just shade the truth will end up making our job harder. What’s more, ultimately, the jury sees through lies and half-truths.
2. Don’t answer questions that weren’t asked.
While we want you to be honest, that doesn’t mean that you have to say everything on your mind. That also doesn’t mean you have to answer questions that weren’t asked.
For example, if the attorney asks you what color the light was when you drove through the intersection, and the appropriate answer was, “the light was green.” What we don’t want you to say is, “the light was green, I was driving 45 mph, it was raining, and there was a man in a suit at the corner waiting to cross.” While the second, longer answer may have indeed been true, you were only asked for the color of the light. Do not volunteer information that wasn’t asked.
3. If you don’t understand the question, ask the attorney to re-ask it.
Lawyers are far from perfect. Often, they ask imperfect, confusing questions. If you don’t understand the question, ask that they ask it in a different way. The goal of a deposition is to put on record, your questions to answers. If you don’t understand the question, your answer will clearly be flawed.
4. Keep calm and carry on.
Some attorneys are polite and respectful. Others are jerks. If you encounter a jerk, let your attorney do their job. Your job is to answer questions honestly. Don’t let them get under your skin. Being polite is the best defense to someone trying to get you angry.
Also, keep in mind, if they are a jerk in front of the jury, and you respond with kindness, that will go a far way in earning the respect of the jury. And that goes a long way in persuading them of your claims.
5. If your attorney makes an objection, let the attorneys worry about it.
Depositions are not like trials. Your attorney can make certain objections, but not like they would be able to at trial. At trial, there are Rules of Evidence that limit the scope of questions you can be asked. At deposition, the scope of questions that can be asked are much broader.
With that being said, your attorney will likely make objections during your deposition. Unlike trial, there’s no judge to resolve objections. Therefore, sometimes things can get heated. Let your attorney do their job. It’s not your fight, it’s theirs.
6. Don’t try to be smarter than the other attorney.
Most attorneys (including myself) aren’t any smarter than you. They’ve just been practicing law longer than you and do depositions for a living. It’s likely that they are asking questions they know the answers to. Or have a good idea of what the answers are.
Don’t try to outsmart them. Indeed, they are hoping you try to because that will likely put them in a better position to discredit you.
To be clear, the witnesses I have the most fun cross examining at trial are those that try to outsmart me. Again, I’m usually no smarter than them, I just have very different goals than they anticipate. And by them playing games, I’m usually able to hurt them in front of a jury. Don’t be like that.
7. If you don’t know the answer, say that you don’t know the answer. But also saying “I don’t know” to everything isn’t the defense you think it is.
Often, attorneys will ask you questions that you don’t know the answer to. Your answer is simple, “I don’t know the answer to that.” It’s honest and it’s not playing games. You can’t be expected to know everything.
With that said, I have seen witnesses use “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” to answer questions they obviously know the answer to but know the answer will hurt their case. Usually, when they do this, it’s clear what they are doing. And it hurts them more in front of a jury than if they were just honest about it.
Don’t play games, just be honest and authentic.
8. Prepare, but don’t overprepare.
If you’ve got an attorney, it’s likely that attorney will give you homework. This should include reviewing your answers to interrogatories, discussing deposition answers, taking efforts to remember important dates of treatments and medical procedures, etc. You need to prepare for deposition because not being prepared can really harm your chances of doing well.
With that said, recognize that there are no perfect depositions. And there will be information that you don’t know and/or won’t remember. So, do your best. But don’t overdo it.
9. No cramming.
Don’t wait until the last minute. This isn’t high school, and these aren’t finals. This is your life. Do your preparation ahead of time so you can get the rest you need the days leading up to your deposition.
10. Your best answer will always be on the drive home.
You will never give the perfect answers. Indeed, like us attorneys, you’ll probably re-work the answers you gave at deposition in the shower or on the drive home. Remember, this is natural. Don’t sweat it. So long as you were honest and tried your best, that’s all we’ll ask of you. That’s all you should ask of yourself.
Do you have more questions about your Virginia car accident case?
For more information, make sure to check out our Virginia Car Accident Practice Page. You can also call us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation. James Abrenio is an award-winning Personal Injury and Criminal Defense lawyer. To learn more about James, click here. You can also read his real client reviews here.