Brian White | January 22, 2023 | Personal Injury
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, everyone wants to hear from you. However, being the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit can be stressful. Not only are you waiting on pins and needles for an outcome, but you’ll have obligations during litigation. That probably includes being deposed.
Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 199 governs the way that lawyers take depositions. However, there’s not much advice when you’re the one answering the questions. Here are a few tips for how to give a great deposition.
Before jumping into how to prep for a deposition, let’s start with the basics.
What Is A Deposition?
A deposition is an oral interview of a witness, given under oath and completed before trial. Depositions happen during discovery, which is when opposing lawyers exchange information and uncover new evidence as they prepare for trial. In special cases, depositions can happen before a lawsuit is even filed.
Who Attends The Deposition?
There are limits on who can be present for a deposition in Texas. The following people are allowed at a deposition:
- The deponent (witness who is testifying)
- Parties to the lawsuit
- Spouses of the parties to the lawsuit
- Lawyers for both parties
- Employees of the lawyers (like law clerks or paralegals)
- Officer taking the deposition
If either party wants someone else present, they must give notice and identify the person to opposing counsel.
How Long Are Depositions?
Depositions can include up to six hours of questioning. You are entitled to breaks during the deposition, but the breaks do not count toward the six-hour limit.
Purpose Of Depositions
Depositions are an important part of a personal injury trial. The purpose of depositions is to:
- Discover new evidence through witness testimony
- Take statements under oath so the deponent can’t change their story later on
- Discredit the testimony of a particular witness or the opposing party
- Practice questioning witnesses before trial
- Force the defendant to settle by exposing unfavorable information
Without depositions, it would be much harder for lawyers to prepare for trial. Depositions even the playing field and help facilitate fair outcomes in personal injury lawsuits.
Our Deposition Advice
Now that you understand the basics of a deposition, here are a few tips for putting your best foot forward.
You must remain calm during your deposition. Lawyers are experts at twisting words and making witnesses look bad. If you start to get nervous, anxious, or angry, the lawyer will pick up on that and try to make it worse. Stay calm and remember that’s their job. Your job is to tell the truth.
Review Facts Of Case Before The Deposition
Sometimes depositions are taken months or years after an accident, but memories fade over time. Take time to recall your testimony or review notes you took at the time of the accident before starting the deposition.
You can also review any evidence or documents with your lawyer beforehand. Just remember to leave all documents and evidence at home! If you bring it to the deposition, opposing counsel can ask you about it.
Ask For Breaks When You Need It
You are entitled to breaks during your deposition, don’t be afraid to ask for them. It is better to ask for a bathroom break or a breather to calm yourself down than to rush through and make a mistake. Your lawyer will advocate for your breaks when you ask for one.
Don’t Be Afraid To Correct Mistakes
If you realize that you’ve misspoken during your deposition, it is important to correct your mistake as soon as possible. If you don’t, opposing counsel can use that mistake to argue that you were lying or to question your memory.
When you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. You do not want to risk answering incorrectly or letting the opposing counsel confuse you with complicated words. It’s better to ask for a question to be rephrased or repeated than to make a mistake.
Listen To Your Lawyer
As always, you should listen to your lawyer. During a deposition, lawyers make objections and they may instruct you not to answer certain questions. Whether it’s to protect you from an improper line of questions, or because opposing counsel is seeking privileged information, you should always stop talking and follow your lawyer’s advice.
Contact the Houston Personal Injury Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
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Houston, TX 77098
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