What is a deposition? A deposition is giving verbal testimony under oath, usually in front of a court reporter. Lawyers take depositions to gain information, get you to admit certain facts, size you up as a witness, and sometimes to try to reach a settlement without actually going to court.
Here are some tips we routinely give to clients who are about to give a deposition:
- Be respectful. It does not serve you well to be hateful or rude to opposing counsel.
- Only answer the question asked. You don’t need to elaborate, expound or give long answers. Those long answers will only be twisted and used against you later in court.
- Tell the truth. Lies are hard to remember and almost always come back to haunt you later.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a break. If you are nervous, not feeling well or just need a few minutes to gather your composure, ask for a break.
- If you don’t understand the question make the attorneys explain it. Attorneys are notorious for asking questions that make no sense, are compound questions or really do not require an answer other than yes or no.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know. It really is okay to not know the answer. Do not guess. Guessing gets you in trouble.
- Never volunteer information. This will not help your case. It will hurt your case.
- Do not interrupt the attorney asking the questions. The court reporter cannot get a good record and this will only delay your deposition.
- If you think you already answered the question say so. Attorneys are notorious for asking the same question over and over again or in 9 different ways.
- Pause before you answer. This not only throws off the questioner because it isn’t naturally how we communicate, but it also gives your attorney time to object and gives you time to answer the question in your head before you answer the question out loud.