Client Deposition Instructions
Under our law, the opposing lawyer has the right to take your deposition. This means that you will be put under oath, just as you would be in court, and he will ask you questions relating to the case. His questions and your answers will be taken down by a court reporter. One of your lawyers will be present.
The purpose of the deposition is to pick the mind of the witness of all the facts which he may have in his possession which will assist the lawyers in the preparation and trial of the lawsuit. The lawyers will also use the deposition to: 1) evaluate how you will appear to a jury; and 2) determine the settlement value of the case.
There will be no judge or jury present. After the deposition is over, the reporter will type the questions and answers, and all parties will receive copies. The original will be filed with the court.
Your deposition when properly given can go a long way in assisting your lawyer in handling your litigation either by way of settlement or at the trial. What YOU do at the deposition can help you or hurt you, depending upon your attitude, truthfulness and appearance.
If your case goes to trial this deposition can be used at the trial in cross-examination by the other lawyers if your testimony at trial differs from your testimony at the time of the deposition.
It is extremely important, therefore, that you have everything in mind about the case at the time of the deposition. We will review the case with you before the deposition, but it is helpful if you refresh your recollection before you meet with us.PRE-DEPOSITION RECOMMENDATIONS:
- REFRESH YOUR RECOLLECTIONS by reading any notes that you made about the case. Visit the scene of the event, if possible, and refresh your recollection concerning visibility, obstructions, distances, speeds and the likes.
- HAVE IN YOUR MIND the general figures with respect to your time lost from work, amount of wages lost, doctor and hospital bills. The opposing lawyer will be provided the exact figures, but you should have the general amount in mind.
- DO NOT MEMORIZE any statement you have given or anything that you are going to say in answer to questions. You should simply visualize what happened and, in your own words, answer any questions concerning it.
- DO NOT BRING ANYTHING to the deposition unless instructed to by your lawyer -no records, no notes, no photos, etc.
You should remember that usually the first opportunity that the opposing counsel has to see you comes at the time of the giving of the discovery deposition. It is important that you make a good impression upon opposing counsel and his client and you should appear at deposition time dressed as you would expect to dress if you were actually going to Court to appear before the jury.
- You should wear clean, neat clothing.
- Treat all persons in the deposition room with courtesy.
- Come prepared to exhibit any and all injuries which you have suffered. If this presents a possibly embarrassing situation, let your lawyer know in advance; he can take care of it.
We know that you would not deliberately state a falsehood, but it is important that you not be trapped into something that is not true. For this reason, LISTEN TO EACH QUESTION CAREFULLY AND BE SURE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND IT BEFORE ANSWERING. If you do not understand a question, ask the other lawyer to repeat it or rephrase it so you do understand it. When you understand the question, then answer it honestly and in a straightforward manner. If you don't know the answer, say that you don't recall. No one can remember every minute detail. However, the important things you will remember and you should give an honest and full answer to questions on these points.
In a lawsuit, as in all other matters, honesty is the best policy. Telling the truth requires that a witness testify accurately about what he knows. If you tell the truth and tell it accurately, nobody can cross you up. Never guess at an answer.
- UNDERSTANDING THE QUESTION before you attempt to give an answer. You can't possibly give a truthful and accurate answer unless you understand the question. If you don't understand, ask the lawyer to repeat it.
- TAKE YOUR TIME. Give the question as much thought as it requires to understand it and formulate your answer; then give the answer. Do not give a snap answer without thinking. If you need a break, tell your lawyer. The deposition will take several hours and you should be comfortable .
- GIVE AN AUDIBLE ANSWER so that court reporter can get it. Don't nod your head yes or no, do not answer uh-huh, ugh-uh, etc. Speak slowly and clearly .
- BEWARE OF QUESTIONS INVOLVING DISTANCES AND TIME. If you make an estimate, make sure that everyone understands that you are estimating. Think clearly about speeds, distances and intervals of time. If you do not know an answer, say so Do not give it your best guess.
- DON'T FENCE OR ARGUE WITH THE LAWYER on the other side. He has the right to question you. Don't answer with a question unless the question you are asked is not clear.
- DON'T LOSE YOUR TEMPER no matter how hard you are pressed. Lose your temper and you may lose the case. If you lose your temper, you have played right into the hands of the other side.
- IF ASKED WHETHER you have talked to the lawyer on your side or to an investigator, admit it freely. This is perfectly proper. H. AVOID JOKING AND WISECRACKS. A lawsuit is a serious matter.
- NEVER VOLUNTEER ANY INFORMATION-JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION- wait until the question is asked . . .answer it, and stop. The other lawyer will probably be friendly and will not 'bully' you in any matter. His theory will probably be that the more he can get you to say, the more apt you are to put your 'foot in your mouth.' An incorrect statement may hurt your case.
- LISTEN TO YOUR LAWYER- -From time to time your lawyer may object to some questions. When he does, stop speaking immediately, listen to his objections and follow his instructions.
In a deposition, many of the Rules of Evidence are different than at trial; DO NOT concern yourself with these matters; your lawyer is protecting your rights.CONCLUSION
REMEMBER: PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF YOUR LAWSUIT IS YOU AND THE APPEARANCE YOU MAKE. IF YOU GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF EARNESTNESS, FAIRNESS, AND HONESTY AND IF IN GIVING YOUR DISCOVERY DEPOSITION YOU KEEP IN MIND THESE SUGGESTIONS, YOU WILL BE TAKING A GREAT STRIDE TOWARDS SUCCESSFUL AND SATISFACTORY COMPLETION OF THE LITIGATION IN WHICH YOU ARE INVOLVED. Before the deposition you will have the opportunity to meet with your lawyer, to go over the suggestions contained in this letter, and to ask any questions you may have.
We hope this information has been of help to you in understanding what a deposition is and how important it is to your case.