Advice From a Lawyer on How to Prepare for a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case

A common legal term that everyone should know the definition of is “deposition”. A deposition (also commonly referred to as an examination before trial) is where the insurance company’s lawyers have an opportunity to ask you (the plaintiff) questions under oath. Your attorney will also question the person being sued (the defendant). While depositions don’t happen with every case, they are common enough that it is important to understand how they work and what to expect, especially if you are involved in a personal injury case.

With over 30 years of experience representing people injured in accidents on Long Island, I have extensive experience and knowledge when it comes to the ins and outs of depositions. If you’d like to know more about what depositions are and how they work, click here to read one of my recent blogs. For advice on how to prepare and what to expect, continue reading below.

Who should help you prepare for your deposition?

If you have received notice to give a deposition, it is your lawyer’s job to prepare you for the deposition so that you will be confident going into the examination and know exactly what to expect. It’s important that your lawyer considers all factors of your case and the accident so they can best prepare you for the deposition and you go in confident and prepared.

Advice I always give my clients

Any time I have a client that has to give a deposition, I remind them that this is not a test. Instead, the attorneys are simply asking you what you remember about the accident and the important details surrounding it. 

I always encourage my clients to give a range when it comes to times, speeds, distances, or amounts. If you give a range from the least amount to the greatest amount it could have been, then it’s a home run every time. For example, you don’t necessarily need to know exactly how fast your car was traveling just prior to impact, so by giving a range of speed, it is easier to give a correct answer.

Another piece of advice I always offer my clients is that you want to get in and out of the question quickly. You only want to answer the question asked and nothing more. Remember, if there is something else an attorney wants to know, they are going to ask you it. Keep your answers short, sweet, and honest and avoid embellishing and exaggerating. Stay calm and always be open, honest, and answer the question you’re asked. Also, don’t guess as guessing always seems to come back to bite you. If you can provide a realistic approximation that is fine, but don’t guess.

What to do if you get nervous

First and foremost, if you get nervous, it’s important to remember you are not alone in this and in fact it’s quite common for people to get nervous during depositions. They are not standard settings and can be intimidating, especially given that most of us have never been to one. When nerves set in, take your time and listen to the question carefully. If you don’t understand the question, it’s okay! Just ask the attorney to rephrase the question so you can gain a better understanding. If you need to take a break, you can take a break at any time for any reason, but if there is a question pending you will need to answer it prior to leaving the room or pausing the deposition.

Want to know a great way to avoid feeling anxious? Pretend that you’re talking to a neighbor, a friend, or someone you are comfortable with and you’re explaining how an accident happened and what happened to you. The most important thing is to be yourself, be truthful, be polite, and be friendly.

What to avoid in a deposition

The biggest thing not to do is to get in a fight with the other lawyer. Giving the attorney a reason to write a bad report to the insurance company is something you absolutely want to avoid, so if you get frazzled for any reason, take a break. Depositions are one of the most important parts of your case and they will be over before you know it, so take the time you need to collect yourself and continue calmly.My goal is to always to help my clients every step of the way, so they feel prepared and confident. I hope this sheds some light on how to best prepare for a deposition, but if you ever have any other questions, you are welcome to give me a call at 631-495-9435 or contact me here and I will be more than happy to help.

Click the video below to watch a video from Mark where he goes into a detailed explanation about depositions and what to expect!