What is a Deposition?
There will be an attorney or representative asking you a series of questions. There will be a court reporter who will take down all of the Claimant’s answers. After the deposition, the court reporter will prepare a transcript of your testimony. It will read sort of like a play – with questions and answers.
A deposition is a formal investigation that is performed in which the person being deposed gives sworn statements or evidence to the attorney taking the deposition. The statements are sworn evidence because there is a court reporter present that takes down all questions and answers under penalty of perjury.
Know this. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
How Important is a Deposition?
The short answer is: very important. If your case has been set for trial, mediation, or there are settlement negotiations underway, it is very likely the defense attorney will want to take your deposition.
A deposition (if you prepare properly for it) is nothing to be afraid of At the same time, your deposition is one of the most important things that happens in your case, and your testimony in a deposition can be extremely important. While this might sound scary, a deposition is a simple occurrence that if you prepare properly, will go well.
What is the purpose of a deposition?
Most lawyers will tell you that the purpose of a deposition is to pick the mind of the person being deposed, in order to collect all of the facts that the defense attorney needs to assist them in preparing for your trial. Specifically, the defense attorney will be trying to determine which parts of your testimony will help them handle your case in a certain manner, trying to get you to say things that they can use against you, and what kind of behavior you display in the deposition, so that they might use that against you in front of a Judge in court.
But, that is not really what it is all about. There are other more real-world purposes for depositions. In essence, the other attorney is looking for ways to attack you and your case during the trial. You have to always assume that your case is going to trial.
In addition, the DBA insurance company lawyer is trying to size you up, so to speak. In this regard, they are looking for three very important things. First, will the Judge believe you (i.e., your credibility/ truthfulness)? Second, will the Judge like you? Third, can they get you to lose your temper and/or get upset?
Tips for Your DBA Deposition
One thing to remember is to always be polite, don’t lose your cool. Never get too heated. You can show any emotion in the deposition, but anger or frustration. If you start to feel anger or frustration – ask to take a break. You can cry. But you should ask to take a break, because you want to be thinking clearly.
You should dress like you are going to church or a place of worship. Don’t come in a suit. You don’t want to try and be the lawyer. But look respectable. Don’t wear jeans, a cap or a regular t-shirt.
When being deposed, always tell the truth. This is the most important piece of advice you can take away.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the question to be rephrased, speak clearly. Answer with Yes or No questions if possible. Do not volunteer information that is not necessary to what was asked of you. Do not guess at an answer, if you don’t know something, say, “I don’t know.” “I don’t recall.”
Question: “Do you have children?”
Correct answer: “Yes.”
Incorrect answer: “I have three children, two live with me – Alice 13 and Rob 12, and Shelly 5, lives with my ex-wife Sally who I can’t stand.”
Do you see how you just opened Pandora’s box? You can bet that you will be talking about your ex-wife a lot during your deposition and the defense lawyer will be talking with your ex-wife also, trying to dig up dirt about you.
But don’t say “I don’t know.” “I don’t recall.” - if, in fact, you do recall. The defense lawyer, and just as importantly, the Judge will see through this. The Judge has seen it all, believe me.
Never guess or speculate. If you guess and guess wrong with an answer – they will accuse you of lying when you get to trial. If you aren’t 100% sure about an answer – say that.
Dealing With Bad Stuff
Everyone has bad stuff in their life that they aren't so proud of. Everyone. At least most honest folks do. How "bad" it is depends. But, we have all had our moments. Unless you walk on water, or course. The rest of us have had bad stuff happen.
Trying to hide bad stuff or bad facts is a recipe for disaster. If you do this, you probably just lost your DBA case. Not good. Instead, tell your attorney about all the bad stuff that you are worried about. Tell them early and often. It is always best if you tell your attorney about any bad stuff and/or bad facts well in advance of the deposition. That gives your attorney more time to deal with it, gather additional information, plan a strategy on how to present it, etc. Waiting to the morning of your deposition to “spill the beans” is never good. But, even then, it is better than getting caught lying.
It’s all in the preparation
You need to adequately prepare for you deposition. This is your lawyer’s job. If your lawyer tells you that they plan on preparing you the morning of your deposition, I would be a tad wary. You need to prepare in advance of the deposition. In case any problems arise or questions arise in the preparation, you can resolve them before your deposition or, at least, continue the deposition and resolve the issue (for example, get more information, so you can testify truthfully) as best as possible before you have to testify.
We send our clients detailed deposition prep pointers to help them prepare and get information ready that we know will probably be asked.
Do I need a lawyer?
Yes! You must have a good, honest lawyer present in your deposition, in order to protect your interests. Otherwise, the insurance company lawyer is going to use you like a tool. Bank on it. I am not saying you have to hire us. But you should have the best, honest DBA lawyer that will take your case.
Never, ever agree to have your deposition taken unless you are represented by good, honest DBA lawyer that is willing to win your case with the truth.
Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.