If you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else, there are a number of things that may happen. If the insurance company is unwilling to settle the case without requiring your lawyer to file suit, you may have to be deposed.
If you sue, and the case progresses, the insurance company’s lawyer will want to take your deposition. The other side gets to ask you questions in a deposition. You have to answer under oath, often with a video camera recording what you say. Whenever you are asked questions in a deposition, your lawyer will be by your side.
You may be shown documents during your deposition, or you may simply be asked what you understand and what your memory of what happened is. Regardless, your answers to the questions asked are very important, and may be used later by your lawyer or the insurance company’s lawyer.
A deposition is an odd social interaction, and it can be a challenging thing to go through. The other side’s lawyer is trying to use the deposition to keep from having to pay you what you deserve for your injuries, and they have done depositions before. This may be the first time you have ever been in a situation like this.
With this in mind, here are three simple rules to keep in mind for your deposition. If you focus on these three rules, you should be able to navigate through this deposition well.
RULE 1 – UNDERSTAND EACH QUESTION BEFORE YOU ANSWER IT
The best thing you can do in a deposition is to focus on each question that is asked of you and make sure you understand it before answering. This lets you make sure you know what you’re supposed to talk about, and it lets your lawyer object if a question isn’t appropriate.
The other side’s lawyer is allowed to ask you questions about your case. They aren’t allowed to have you just talk about the case in an unfocused way. If you do that, you can accidentally give them valuable information without realizing it.
Worse, it may be that you are about to tell the other side something that you shouldn’t. If you just start talking, your lawyer may not be able to tell what you’re going to say if it isn’t in response to a question. You may accidentally say something you shouldn’t.
RULE 2 – ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH
It seems simple enough, but people can have a hard time following this rule. Most people don’t just make things up – if a light was red, and they remember it as red, they’ll say it was red.
Instead, people run into trouble where they are trying to answer something and they overestimate their memory. If you don’t remember that the light was red, don’t say the light was red. If you don’t remember whether the light was green or red, don’t say that the light was red. It isn’t your job to guess in a deposition. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Answering affirmatively when you really don’t know can let the other side think you’re a liar.
RULE 3 – LISTEN TO YOUR LAWYER
Your lawyer is there for a reason. Listen to him or her. If your lawyer says not to answer a question, don’t answer the question. If you don’t understand what’s happening, ask for a break and confer with your lawyer. Make sure you sit down with your lawyer before your deposition and prepare. But, in the end, follow the lead of your lawyer when preparing for your deposition, and while you’re in the deposition. A car accident lawyer can only help you win your case to the extent that you let them; when you’re in the deposition, let your lawyer do his or her job.
With these three rules in mind, you should be able to make it through your deposition fine.