A deposition is when both sides in a case have the opportunity to ask questions of the other side's witnesses "on the record." "On the record" means that the witnesses' answers, or "testimony", will be recorded for the purpose of litigation. Depositions are used to gather facts from the other side, determine if the person will make a credible witness, and to search for any inconsistencies in a case.
What happens during a deposition?
You, your attorney, the attorney representing the other side, and a court reporter will all be in the room. You will be "sworn in," meaning you will pledge to tell the truth. The other side's attorney will ask you a series of questions. Depending on your case, this can take a few hours or a half-day. Your own attorney may or may not ask you any questions. Remember they can ask you questions at any time, not necessarily on the record in front of opposing counsel.
I'm nervous, how do I prepare for a deposition?
Relax. Most people come into a deposition nervous. For many, this is their first time at a deposition. But, extensive preparation for a deposition as a witness can lead you into trouble. If you memorize answers to potential questions or rehearse exactly what you want to say it can cause problems. You can come off as phony or fake. You might not even answer the question the opposing counsel is asking because you are concentrating too hard on what you want to say, not what you are actually being asked.
Instead of bringing a notebook filled with extensive notes, focus on getting a good night’s sleep and stay relaxed so you can concentrate on answering the questions being asked of you.
This is the advice we give our clients at Meuser Law Office, P.A. regarding depositions:
Be completely truthful. Do not lie or attempt to mislead anyone in your testimony. Doing so will not help your case, it will only hurt you. Every case has some bad facts. It is your attorney's job to work with these facts.
You aren't going to know every single answer, and that's okay. If you aren't exactly sure or can't remember, just say that. If you don't understand the question, say so and ask for clarification. It is worse to answer the question you think the attorney is asking rather than what is actually being asked.
Even if you are nervous, try not to ramble or go on tangents. Answer truthfully, succinctly, and to the point.
Do not react defensively when the other attorney is asking you questions. Yes, the other attorney might be abrasive, but if you react to that you aren't helping the situation. You are only telling the other attorney that he or she can get under your skin at trial when it counts. Instead, stay calm.
Due to the way the court reporter keeps track of what is said during the deposition it's important for only one person to speak at a time. We all have a tendency to talk over people, just be mindful of this during the deposition. Also be aware that you must voice "yes or no" instead of nodding or shaking your head because the court reporter can only record what is spoken aloud.
For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your Minnesota workers' compensation rights, contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 877-746-5680 or check us out at www.meuserlaw.com.