A deposition is a question and answer session that takes place under oath, with a stenographic reporter taking down all that is said. It may be sometimes be tape recorded or videotaped. Sometimes it's referred to as an "examination before trial." A deposition is not done before a judge or jury, and it is not a trial.
Its purpose is to allow the opposing side to ask you questions about your case. Your testimony will be recorded and may be sued against you at trial, so a deposition should be taken seriously. You should always meet with the lawyer representing prior to being deposed so that you may be prepared for the types of questions to expect. This preparation time should take as long as is necessary in order to prepare you for your testimony, so you should always be on time for your appointment.
During the deposition, you will be questioned by the attorney for the defendant. You will usually be questions by the lawyer of each party being sued as a defendant. At that time, your attorney will be there at your side to object to improper questions and protect your interests.
Then your attorney will question the defendant and co-defendants, if any. All parties will be asked in great detail how the accident occurred. You will also be questioned about the nature and extent of the injuries you're claiming, and the type and duration of any medical treatment.
During the course of the deposition, your attorney may object to a question asked of you. In that case, you should not answer the question unless and until your attorney tells you that you may do so. You may also be asked to look at documents, such as accident reports or forms signed by you, or even photographs of the accident scene or property damage. Just remember that you attorney is there to protect you, and if there is something that you do not understand, you should say so. Also, if English is not your first language and you are more comfortable answering questions in another language, you should let your attorney's office know in advance of the deposition, so that arrangements can be made for an interpreter to be present.
Remember that opposing counsel is attempting to get information from you, so you should keep your responses short and truthful, and don't volunteer more, trying to be too helpful. Do not volunteer any information or explain anything unless you are asked to explain. Don't guess.
Don't be afraid to answer, "I don't know." On the other hand, if you say "I don't know" too often, you may seem untruthful. So if you can give some kind of answer - say a range of time, or distance, or speed, try to answer as best as you can. Just don't take wild guesses. At deposition is not your time to tell your story; that day is at trial, if your case goes that far without settling. Also know that the other side is looking you over to try to predict what kind of trial witness you would make.
Do you appear truthful? Sympathetic? Will a jury love you or hate you? Your answers will be typed into a booklet and you will later be asked to sign it and have it notarized, indicating that you agree those answers are what you previously said, and that they are true. Y0u will return the booklet to your attorney's office If that booklet, or as it is called, transcript, does not accurately reflect what you said, changes can be made. Instructions concerning how you make changes and where you are to sign will accompany the transcript. Once signed, however, your testimony is almost "written in stone," and cannot be changed at a later date without causing a situation that may not help your case. To refresh your memory, you should try to visit the place where the accident occurred before your deposition. If you have questions about being deposed, write them down so you will remember to ask your attorney when you meet with him or her before the deposition.
Naturally, you can also call your attorney's office at any time beforehand.
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