How To Avoid Common Mistakes During Your Personal Injury Deposition
Tell the Truth!Rule number one is "Tell the Truth"! Insurance defense attorneys are generally paid by the hour and make their living by meticulously combing through each and every record that exists to learn about you -- your past injuries and accidents in particular. Rest assured, by the day of your deposition, the defense attorney knows more about you than you do (or at least more about you than you will remember at your deposition.)
It doesn't matter that you don't think a question is relevant or that you can't imagine how they will ever find out about an auto accident or work comp claim that you made 20 years ago. Trust me -- they already know! They are asking you because they want you to not tell the truth so that they can ask the Judge to throw out your case for fraud! Don't give them what they want -- just tell the truth!
Only Answer the Question that is Asked!You are only required to answer the question that is asked. Do not volunteer additional information that goes beyond the scope of the attorney's question.
For example, if the defense attorney asks you "What high school did you graduate from?" the answer is " X High School". The answer should not be "Well....you see, I moved a lot because my dad was in the navy, and I had some problems at Thomas Jefferson High School -- I wasn't exactly thrown out but there was a meeting and my parents and the administrators decided.....". No! The question was WHAT high school you graduated from, therefore, the only two possible answers are "X high school" or "I did't graduate from high school".
Don't Guess!A deposition is not a friendly conversation between friends. There is a reason why there is a court reporter typing every answer you give -- you are (with rare exceptions) STUCK with the answer you give. This is important because sometimes nervous deponents guess when giving an answer because they feel obligated to answer the question. The defense attorney does not want you to guess and doing so usually only hurts your case. If you don't know the answer to a question, the only appropriate answer is "I don't know". If you don't recall the answer to a question, the only appropriate answer is "I don't recall".
Don't Fail to Prepare!Your deposition is very important. The defense attorney, and the adjuster who will likely be present, will be watching everything you say and do. They are listening and watching you closely to determine how you will come across to a jury -- are you believable / likeable / do you come across as truthful?
You should speak with your attorney about your deposition and have any questions that you have about the process answered well before the day of your deposition. A 30 minute meeting just before your deposition begins is not enough -- insist that you meet with your attorney to discuss your deposition well in advance of the day of the deposition and make sure that all of your questions are answered!
Never Say NeverIn normal, everyday conversation we use phrases like "can't" or "never" to express to our friends and family how difficult things are since an accident. For example, "Since the accident, I can't play outside with my kids". While you and I know that what you are trying to express is that you try not to play with your kids because it hurts, or that it's more difficult to play with your kids, or that you have to be more careful when you play with your kids, what the defense attorneys hears is that you "CAN'T". They LOVE to hear you say you "can't" do something since the accident because they likely already have (or will easily obtain) surveillance video or photos of you doing that very thing or something substantially similar and will attempt to use the photos/video in order to show the Judge that you have lied and that your case should be thrown out for fraud. Choose your words carefully!
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