In most of my workers’ comp cases my clients usually have to give their deposition at some point. Most parties to civil law suits also end up giving deposition testimony.
First, what is a deposition? A deposition is a discovery tool used by lawyers to investigate after law suits have been filed. A deposition is basically an interview by the opposite side in a case. The person being interviewed will be sworn in, and then questioned. The answers will all be recorded by a court reporter so that a transcript will be available for later.
Who will be at the deposition? For workers’ comp cases, generally present at a deposition will be the person being questioned, the lawyer for that person, the lawyer asking the questions, and the court reporter. In more complicated cases, others may be present too.
What kind of questions will be asked? During a deposition, the questioning attorney will certainly ask questions about anything related to the case. But more importantly, they will be analyzing the witness and assessing what type of witness they will make at trial. Almost anything said by the deponent(person being questioned) is subject to being used later at trial.
How to prepare for a deposition? Generally deponents should review any written answers and evidence they have produced in the case. But most importantly, they should simply tell the truth. I always advise my clients to listen to the question, take a deep breath, then answer simply and honestly. It’s natural for people to hear a question, think they know why it is being asked, then give a very long winded answer trying to fight the perceived purpose of the question. This is almost never good.
Here is an example of a proper deposition answer:
Question: “Have you ever experienced any other injury to your back prior to this incident”
Here is an example of a bad deposition answer to the same question:
Answer: “Yes, but it wasn’t that bad of an injury, and I could do everything I used to do after that happened….it really was not that painful and I didn’t even go to the doctor….I don’t think, if I’m remembering it right. Wait, which back injury are you talking about?”
If you have to give deposition testimony, remember the above, but also remember not to stress too much about it. You will be nervous, and that is ok. But I promise it won’t be as bad as you think. Let me know if you have any questions.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill