What to Do in a Deposition
Attorney Kimberly Beck
Always Tell the Truth.
know; I know; you have heard this one before, but it is so important it should always be repeated.
This Article, “What to do in a Deposition” isn’t all about what you have to do. It’s also about what you are Allowed to do.
You Can Take a Break
Depositions are exhausting. You need to take breaks. I would try to limit it to one break per hour. I recommend getting up and going into the bathroom even if you do not need to use the bathroom. This gives you a chance to just breathe and rest for two or three minutes without anyone looking at you or asking you any questions. See also this article for more information about why you should take breaks.
You are also entitled to eat. If your deposition has been going for more than two hours or so and you have at least an hour left, you should feel free to ask for a lunch break. That is true even if one of the lawyers starts complaining about missing another appointment or missing a flight. That is not your problem. You have enough to worry about. You do not need to take on the things lawyers are supposed to be worrying about.
Bring a Snack and a Drink.
If your stomach is growling, you are not at your best. At that moment, you would probably enjoy a breakfast bar, candy bar, piece of fruit, or the like. You can also have a drink while you are giving your deposition testimony. If your deposition is being video recorded, try to remember not to put the drink in the video, but if you do, do not beat yourself up.
If You Do Not Know or Do Not Remember, Say That.
Before I went to law school, I was involved in a car accident. I was on a one-way street, and cars were parallel parked on both sides. A bunch of street signs lined the streets marking sections of the street as “no parking.” I pulled forward into a parking space on the left. (Yes, I know, I now parallel park properly, but at the time I was young and an inexperienced driver.)
Apparently, a car was sitting in one of the no parking spaces waiting to pull forward into the space I pulled into. The other car hit the back quarter panel of my car. And, I got ticketed for failing to obey an ordinance prohibiting someone from veering to the left or right in a moving vehicle until and unless it is reasonably safe.
I disputed the ticket in court. Other people park illegally all the time, and that is just not my problem. Pulling into the parking space was not unreasonable.
The prosecutor thought he had me. He asked “well, were the brake lights on the other car on?” Okay, common sense tells me that the brake lights would be on, but the fact is that I did not know. So, I said, “I just do not remember.” I did not assume that the brake lights were on. I tried to remember whether I noticed her brake lights were on. I just did not. That is exactly what I said. It was the right answer, the only true answer.
The same applies in depositions. The deponent (person being asked the questions) should avoid assumptions. If you do not remember, simply say that you do not remember.
If You Remember Something Later, You Can Add It.
Don’t get overwhelmed by what to do in a deposition. It’s okay to make a mistake and it’s okay if you forget something.
If you say something in your deposition and later realize that you misunderstood the question or said something that was incorrect, let your lawyer know. Your lawyer should be able to help you “fix” your answer.
Be Sincere but Keep Your Cool.
Do not behave excessively emotionally or dramatically. Everyone – lawyers, judges, and judges – can tell when someone is being over dramatic. They do not like it.
Before attending your deposition, you may want to take a look at this article about keeping your cool under pressure.
That said, you should feel like you can express your emotions reasonably.
Attorney Kimberly Beck
Attorney Kim Beck is the managing member of Beck Law Center, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has 15 years of experience as an attorney, mostly on the defense. She now represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases involving a variety of injuries caused by defecting drugs/ pharmaceuticals, medical malpractice, and other series accidents. If you would like more information about her background and experience, please review her profile page.
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