You may have been told that you will have to attend a deposition before your case goes to trial, but what is a deposition? Simply put, a deposition is a question and answer session led by the opposing attorney in your lawsuit. Your answers will be given under oath and recorded by a court reporter.
It is common for witnesses to have had no contact with attorneys other than their own counsel. This leaves them unprepared for the nature of questioning that takes place in a deposition. It is important to remember that opposing counsel is not on your side. His job is to learn any information in your case that he can use to discredit you or make you seem like an unreliable witness.
An opposing attorney will typically have three goals when deposing a witness:
- To find out what you know. The attorney will ask questions designed to find out how much you know about your own story, without giving away any valuable information in his possession that could be helpful to you.
- To shape the story. Attorneys can repeat your answers back in a way that minimizes damage or benefits his client, which you may have to challenge and restate.
- To find an inconsistency. Opposing attorneys will often highlight problems or errors in your story as evidence that none of your testimony can be trusted.
The best thing you can do to protect your case in a deposition is to keep calm and stick to short, truthful answers. Remember, the attorney will give his client a recommendation on whether to settle or fight the case based not just on your answers, but also on his impression of you as a witness.
To find out more about what happens in a deposition, click the related links on this page or call to inquire about our video deposition services.