Before we get into the specifics of how to give a deposition, it might be helpful to explain what a deposition is. During the pre-trial stage of the litigation, each side must go through a process called “discovery” to learn facts and gather evidence that will deter define their strategies and avoid delays once the trial begins. Depositions are a part of the discovery process. At a deposition, the opposing side’s attorneys will ask the witness, or deponent, a series of questions about facts and events related to the lawsuit, and the entire deposition will be recorded word-for-word by a court reporter. The reporter is present throughout the session and will produce a transcript at a later time. All parties to a case may attend a deposition, including the deponent’s attorneys. The attorneys for the deponent may make objections to some of the questions being asked by the opposing counsel, but, generally, the deponent is obligated to answer all questions.
A deposition could be as short as an hour or as long as a week or more and, depending on the facts of the case, can be quite stressful for the deponent. As such, it is important that the deponent and his or her lawyer prepare adequately before a deposition. Below, we’ll share a few tips that will help your deposition go as smoothly as possible.
- Always tell the truth: This is the most important element to any deposition. Lying in a deposition constitutes perjury, which is a felony. It can also damage your case if the truth comes out later at trial.
- Listen to the question: Don’t answer any question unless you hear it clearly and completely. You may ask the attorney to repeat a question.
- Make sure you understand the question before answering: Don’t answer any question unless you understand it fully. You may ask the attorney to explain or rephrase the question until you do understand it.
- Don’t guess: If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make something up. Simply tell the attorney that you do not know.
- Confer with your lawyer: You have a right to confer with your attorney privately regarding the question and your answer to it. Don’t be afraid to exercise this right.
- Don’t give more information than is necessary: You don’t want to give the other side any more information than they ask, so stop talking once you feel that you have answered the question in full.
- Remain calm and polite: Although it may be difficult, don’t lose your temper, no matter how hard you are pressed. Your attorney will object to any inappropriate questions or actions by the attorney questioning you.
- Don’t let the opposing counsel put words in your mouth: Do not accept the opposing counsel’s summary of your testimony unless you feel it is completely accurate.
- Don’t reveal the content of discussions with your attorney: Conversations between you and your attorney are confidential and you cannot be compelled to reveal them.
- Admit mistakes: If you realize that you have given an incorrect answer to any question, it is okay to go back and correct it. Just make sure you do so at the earliest opportunity.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
For more information about pre-trial preparation or how to begin a personal injury lawsuit, contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Lawrenceville, Norcross, and Columbus.