How to Prepare and Conquer Your Deposition in Your Case: Tips Shared by Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in Greenville, SC
The overwhelming majority of cases settle before trial – with some estimates being that 95% of all civil cases settle. Although that may seem like your case will start and end very quickly, that is not always the case. Most insurance carriers and defense lawyers will want to conduct what is known as an examination before trial, which is also known as an EBT or more commonly a deposition. It is often said that a deposition is a make-or-break event in a lawsuit, making it critical to perform well in order to get that favorable settlement – like shooting the winning penalty shot, no pressure! But like all things in life, including practicing those free throws, the better prepared you are, the better your outcome will likely be. That’s why our sharpshooting experienced personal injury lawyers in Greenville, SC explains some of the most important preparation tips on how to pull off an impressive dunk at your deposition to come out with the win.
But that also sheds light on the first tip: Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer! Although most cases settle before trial, that still means that there needs to be an investigation, commencement of an action, and discovery to prove your damages and establish liability. Don’t just hire any lawyer, hire one like ours at The Hammack Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina. Both of our experienced lawyers were prior insurance defense lawyers, so we know how the game is played. We understand how to handle a case so that victims and their families have the best chance to recover the compensation that they need and deserve. If you or a loved one were involved in any type of car crash, truck wreck, slip and fall, or any other type of personal injury accident, call our bodily injury law firm to learn more about your rights today.
For a free legal consultation, call 864-740-8653
What is a Deposition?
A deposition can mean a few different things in different contexts. For example, in criminal law, a deposition could be a sworn written statement given to a police officer. But in the civil world, a deposition is much more involved. It is also much more important to your case. It is part of the “discovery” or “disclosure” phase of your case, where information is exchanged between the parties.
Generally, when we talk about a deposition in a personal injury case, we are talking about a formal question-and-answer session between the lawyers and the parties or witnesses. One lawyer will be asking questions of a party, and that party’s lawyer will be “defending” the deposition by making objections to unfair questions. Once the first lawyer is done, the defending lawyer can ask questions of the witness (which isn’t common). Once the witness is done being questioned, the defending lawyer often calls the other party and begins to ask questions.
During depositions, the parties and witnesses are sworn in, and there is a stenographer or court reporter taking down everything that is said. There are also ground rules set by laws, rules and regulations, case law, and sometimes an individual judge.
How to Prepare for Your Deposition
Preparing for a deposition is no different than preparing for a big football game or baking a cake. You need to have a plan, practice it, and stick to it. In terms of a personal injury lawsuit, that generally means understanding what will likely be asked as it relates to the accident and to your injuries.
Therefore, some important tips to prepare for your deposition include the following:
1. The number one thing is to tell the truth. You can’t get caught in a trap if you tell the truth.
2. Answer only the question that is asked and do not elaborate or speculate. Every answer you give can lead to another set of questions. Remember that the only fish in the pond that ever gets caught is the one with its mouth open! Do not be Billy the Big Mouth Bass.
3. Think back to what happened before your accident on that day. What were you doing? Where were you going?
4. Try to visualize what happened and explain it in your head long before that other lawyer asks you questions on the record. Sometimes writing it down (with the heading “attorney-client privilege/attorney work product”) can really help you verbally explain it.
5. Ask your lawyer to review your pleadings so you are familiar with the claims.
6. Skim through your medical records and be generally aware of when you went, what you felt, and the doctors.
7. Ask family members what they have observed to help you better describe your injuries and accident. You can also ask others like coworkers or friends to help too.
8. Ask a family member or friend to ask you mock questions – not even about the accident! Just get into the practice of waiting until the question is asked (don’t talk over anyone), answering the question and only the question (don’t offer anything extra), and not stuttering or saying “um” or “uh,” or using head shakes (which the record cannot pick up).
9. Don’t be a hero! We know you are a strong person, but if you have pain or limitations, you need to explain it fully at the deposition. Failing to do so can really limit your case’s recovery.
10. On the other hand, don’t exaggerate! Most lawyers have seen it all. We know when a party or witness is trying to exaggerate or “talk up” their injuries. And juries and judges know that too. Be honest and explain what really hurts and your limitations, but never lie or exaggerate.
11. Ask your lawyer questions BEFORE the deposition – you can even ask for a mock deposition or deposition prep with your lawyer before.
12. If you do not understand a question, don’t answer it! Look at your lawyer for guidance or respond if you do not understand the question.
13. Realize that the record is taking down what you say. It is perfectly fine to take a second and think about the answer before talking. It might sound a little weird in person, but the written transcript won’t reflect that.
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Still Unsure How to Prepare for a Deposition? Hire our Personal Injury Lawyers in Greenville, SC to Ensure Your Deposition’s Success
Like a good werewolf movie or an IRS audit, depositions can be scary. But our personal injury lawyers in Greenville, SC at The Hammack Law Firm can help demystify the horror of depositions and turn that werewolf into a basket of puppies.
We have the skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced team necessary to help guide victims and their families through the discovery phase of a lawsuit which includes depositions. We posture every case as if it will go to trial, but aggressively pursue an advantageous settlement at every opportunity we can.
To learn more about how we can help you, call us today to schedule a FREE case evaluation.