If you’re a manager of a business, then there’s one phone call that you’ll be dreading. Your employee has been involved in an accident at work and, even though they’ve not been seriously hurt, they have informed you that you can expect a lawsuit to follow closely behind.
This is where a deposition comes in. A deposition is just the first stage in what might be a very long and meandering courtroom drama. With a deposition, you’re sworn into the courtroom and questioned intensely by lawyers as the court reporters record every word that comes out of your mouth.
It’s understandable that even reading about this process can start giving you heart palpitations. It’s a nerve-wracking ordeal and one that can seem all the more daunting if you are unfamiliar with the tricks and twists of the system.
However, by following our handy guide to deposition below, you can sail through this initial stage with confidence, hopefully resulting in a beneficial outcome for either you or the company you represent.
So you’ve been called to a deposition - what now?
Now, your only experience with courtroom dramas might have been from watching the film A Few Good Men, but don’t worry, the truth of being in court can be much easier to handle.
It’s important to do your research to understand what exactly a deposition is. It is basically the part of the process where the two parties involved discover as much as they can about the case, providing all the information they have.
Often, the deposition will take place outside the courtroom, probably in some sort of conference room. You will be made to swear an oath as to the accuracy of your statements, which will be recorded by a stenographer and, in some instances, possibly recorded on video.
You can get extra information on your deposition from your company, which should provide you with basic information and guidelines on how to conduct yourself during this process of the hearing.
Study, Study, Study!
Before you provide your own information at the deposition, you can review the pleadings in the case to make yourself as informed as possible before entering the courtroom.
We would recommend that you study the initial complaint as well as the first response to the lawsuit to best help inform your testimony.
You are entitled to read what various witnesses and experts have testified. Information such as this will give you a much clearer idea of the lawsuit, as well as understanding the approach of the prosecution and the motives behind certain lines of questioning.
However, while we would recommend reading ahead of time, try not to over-rehearse your case. Overly prepared answers to questions can sound very stilted, plus, if an attorney hits you with a question that you didn’t anticipate, it can really rattle you and cause you to say something that can be later used against you.
Think Before Speaking
Try not to interrupt the attorney that is questioning you, allow them to finish their sentences and try to fully comprehend all the ramifications of what you might say before answering. Often there might be a layer of meaning underneath the surface question.
If you don’t understand the question the first time around, don’t be afraid to ask the attorney to repeat themselves. You should take a pause that might seem uncomfortable rather than chatter away and say something that can be used against you in court at a later date.
Remember that a non-verbal response such as nodding or shaking your head can’t be recorded, and the judge or the attorney will ask you to repeat your questions verbally.
Taking a pause also permits your lawyer to offer an objection on your behalf, especially if he feels the line of questioning isn’t relevant or is inappropriate.
Once your lawyer has objected, make sure that you remain silent, listen to any instructions that you are given, then wait until you are asked to proceed.
Admit It If You Forget
Most people want to appear together and completely knowledgable during their deposition, but obviously, that can’t always be the case. However, it is not a crime or a weakness to admit that you don’t remember a certain detail if it’s true.
If you are discovered to be lying, then you can be convicted of committing perjury, which still applies to depositions. It is better to admit your ignorance rather than get caught in a lie, which could very much negatively affect your trial.
Remember, try and stay consistent throughout your deposition and stay especially consistent between the deposition and the trial. If one of your statements differs from one to the other then this will severely affect your credibility and you will be cross-examined heavily on it.
Unfortunately, it’s part of an attorney’s job to unsettle you and rattle you to the point where you might say something that will affect your credibility and allow them to gain significant leverage in the cage.
During the deposition, it is important not to be flippant or trivial and definitely don’t get angry or answer back to the attorney. Remember that the lawyers are not being personal, even though it might seem like. This is a business, and it is important to try and negotiate your way through it as efficiently as possible.
If you have a professional and dignified attitude, then you have the greatest chance of having the best possible outcome for you and your company. If you represent your company well, you’ll simply be reflecting the high caliber of people they hire there.
Don’t Talk Back To Attorneys
Attorneys are hired to pick apart every aspect of your testimony. They’re extremely well-versed in the law and know when to invoke certain aspects for it to their advantage.
If you answer back to an attorney, very quickly they’ll be able to use it against you.
Remember: when in a court of law, neutrality is your friend. Getting heated up will only damage your case in the long term.
Thank you for visiting. This website is for informational purposes only. None of the information provided is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute, legal advice, and none of the information necessarily reflects the opinions of Misty Rock Capital LLC dba whocanisue.com or anyone associated, employed or affiliated with Misty Rock Capital LLC dba whocanisue.com.