Being called upon to give a deposition either as a witness or party can be a nerve-racking experience. Here are 10 tips from our experienced attorneys to help you prepare:
1. Listen to the question- Take your time. Make sure you understand before you answer. If there is any part of the question do not understand, say so.
2. Answer the question – Not some other question, just the question you are asked. Say no more than is necessary to answer the question. Do not volunteer extra information or explanations.
3. Do not guess- If you don’t know the answer, say so. If you don’t remember, say so. It is your job to give the answers you know-not to speculate about the answers you don’t. Also, most people are generally bad at estimating time and distance. It’s much better to use general terms of describing distances in time.
4. You are the witness – Not the lawyer. do not argue with the lawyer for the other side. Do not object. Do not try to sell the case. Just answer the questions
5. Watch out for questions that paraphrase your answer – lots of times the lawyer may take your ideas and put them in other words–changing your meaning in ways that you might not catch at the time. If the lawyer asks if his paraphrasing is accurate, you are entitled to say that you would rather stand on your answer and stick with the way you put it.
6. Beware of absolutes- Watch for questions that use the words “always”and”never”.
7. Admit preparing for the deposition- There is nothing wrong with going over your testimony in advance. It would be irresponsible not to.
8. If your attorney objects, listen- If you are speaking, stop talking at once. An objection is a danger signal. It says you should put your mouth and low gear and your brain in high gear.
9. Correct Mistakes- if you discover you have made a mistake in your testimony, let your attorney know before for the deposition is over. Mistakes will not correct themselves.
10. If you get tired, take a break- If you need to go the bathroom, or get a cup coffee, say so. It is not an interrogation. If you start to get argumentative, or too talkative, your attorney may request a break for you.
Following the above tips should help you provide clear concise testimony which will be helpful in resolving the case.