I am a plaintiff in a Tennessee car wreck case. I have been told I have to give a deposition. I am very nervous about it. Are there any general rules about such things?
Your lawyer will spend several hours preparing you for your deposition. He or she will thoroughly explain the deposition process and will give you a solid understanding of what is expected of you.
- Take Your Time – Wait 5 seconds before answering each question; control the pace.
- Always Remember You Are Making a Record – If you realize you made a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct it at any point during the deposition.
- Tell the Truth – You have nothing to hide from; clients who lie because they think it will help their case generally end up doing exactly the opposite.
- Be Relentlessly Polite – Thinking, saying or implying negative things will only make things worse.
- Don’t Answer a Question You Don’t Understand – Just say “Would you please rephrase the question.” Don’t answer until question is phrased in a way that you understand.
- “I Don’t Remember” and “I Don’t Know” Are Acceptable Answers. Don’t be embarrassed to use them.
- Do Not Guess – If you are estimating, be clear about the fact that you are doing so. Don’t use inferences- testify only about what you precisely saw, heard, or did.
- Do Not Volunteer Information – Keep answers as short, simple, and narrow as possible, and then stop.
- Be Careful with Documents and Prior Statements – If the questioning attorney is asking you about a document, ask to see it and read it carefully before answering.
- Use Your Attorney if Necessary – Don’t think that it will look bad if you request a break to speak to your attorney. [Note: I personally disagree with this last tip. I think you should ask to speak with your attorney only if absolutely necessary.]
These are very helpful tips. However, please remember that to the extent that your lawyer disagrees with any of them, follow your lawyer’s advice.