A deposition can be stressful and intimidating. If you attend a deposition, you must plan accordingly. Otherwise, you risk giving away too much information and inadvertently hurting your case.
At John Foy & Associates, we help clients deal with depositions in Georgia personal injury lawsuits. If you want help preparing for a deposition, one of our attorneys can assist you. We can also answer common questions surrounding what not to say during a deposition.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is part of the discovery process in a legal dispute. During a deposition, you may receive questions from an attorney regarding your involvement in a case. All of your responses are written down and may be used against you during a trial.
You may be deposed as part of a personal injury lawsuit. For instance, if you are involved in a car accident case, a defendant’s attorney may depose you and ask you questions relating to the incident. You must attend the deposition and answer these questions honestly, as failure to do so can result in legal consequences.
A personal injury attorney can help you prepare for a deposition. Your lawyer will encourage you to listen to each question that comes your way and respond truthfully. At the same time, your attorney may encourage you to avoid saying too much since doing so can damage your case.
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Are You Required to Answer All Questions During a Deposition?
You are legally required to attend a deposition if you receive a subpoena. If you do not show up for a deposition, you can be held in contempt of court. At this point, a court can require you to complete your deposition there.
Along with being required to attend a deposition, you are required to answer most of the questions that come your way. There can be instances when you can refuse to answer a deposition question if it reveals privileged information. In these instances, your attorney can object to a deposition question on your behalf.
Any time you attend a deposition, you must be honest in how you answer questions. If you are found lying during a deposition, you can be charged with perjury. In instances where this happens, you can face prison time or other penalties.
What Should You Not Say During a Deposition?
There are many things you can say to answer questions honestly during a deposition. However, there are also things you should avoid saying at all costs. These include:
Guessing or Speculating on Things
It is in your best interest to stick to the facts at hand. If you are unsure about the answer to a question, you can always respond, “I do not know,” or, “I cannot answer that.” Both of these responses are acceptable and help you avoid guessing or speculating on things.
Saying Things Out of Anger
A defendant’s attorney will ask tough, probing questions during a deposition. Some of these questions may make you feel angry, but it is paramount to resist the urge to respond rashly. If you respond to a question out of anger, you risk getting into an argument with the defendant’s lawyer, which could ultimately hurt your case.
In a deposition, you should try to answer a question as it is asked to you. Do not provide too much information, as doing so can cause you to give up details that harm your case. If a defendant’s attorney wants more information or requires clarification after you answer, the lawyer will ask follow-up questions.
Speaking in Absolutes
Using terms like “never” and “always” in your deposition answers may do more harm than good. Answering questions with these terms may make it sound like you are being definitive about various topics. On the other hand, doing so may make you seem stubborn and unwilling to adapt or negotiate with an opposing party.
Your attorney will devote as much time as needed to prepare you for your deposition. Along the way, your lawyer will encourage you to ask questions regarding your deposition. That way, you can enter your deposition feeling calm, cool, and collected.
What Should You Say During a Deposition?
There are things you can do to present yourself as a credible source of information during your deposition without compromising your case. Some of these things include:
Stick to the Facts
Review the facts of your case in the days leading up to your deposition. As you get questions about your case, you will be able to answer them calmly and confidently. Plus, you can use the facts of your case to avoid getting off track and accidentally sharing too much information with a defendant’s attorney.
Take Your Time When Answering Questions
If necessary, take a few deep breaths and think about your response before you answer a deposition question. There is no time limit for a deposition. If you take your time, you can provide a thoughtful response to every question.
Use “Yes” or “No” Answers Whenever Possible
If a defendant’s attorney asks you a closed-ended question, respond with a “yes” or “no.” There is no penalty if you answer a question this way. If a defendant’s attorney has further questions, the lawyer will share them with you.
Get Through Each Question on Its Own
When faced with a question, think about it, and respond accordingly. Try not to get ahead of yourself during a deposition. Conversely, focus on answering one question at a time, and you are well-equipped to make it through your deposition without damaging your case.
Spend time preparing for your deposition. If you have concerns about what will happen during your deposition, share them with your attorney. Then, your lawyer can address your concerns prior to your questioning.
What Is the Best Way to Get Ready for a Deposition?
John Foy & Associates is a Georgia personal injury law firm that can teach you everything you need to know about depositions. Our team of lawyers can help you prepare for an upcoming deposition. To learn more or request a free consultation, please contact us today.