Preparing for a Deposition As a Defendant: Everything You Should Know

How to Prepare for a Deposition as a Defendant

If you’re on the wrong end of a lawsuit, you may need to attend a deposition held by the opposing party. Many deponents find depositions to be stressful and intimidating since you interacting directly with the party that is bringing the charges against you.

So, how can you prepare for a deposition as a defendant? Here is a list of the things you can do to help you prepare for the deposition:

  • Research What a Deposition Involves
  • Remember Details of the Incident in Question
  • Talk to Your Attorney Ahead of Time
  • Understand That This Is Your Turn to Share Your Side of the Story
  • This is Your Time to Appeal to the Other Party
  • Understand How a Deposition Record Can Be Used in Court

 

While attending a deposition can be nerve-wracking, it can end in your favor. Many settlements are the result of what happens in a deposition. Keep reading to get an in-depth look at each of the above points to help you better prepare before walking into a deposition.

Research What a Deposition Involves

When it comes to being involved in a deposition, the more you know what to expect, the more at ease you may feel. As a deposition videographer, I’ve been to many depositions and I’ve noticed that there are always a few things you can expect when you sit down to be deposed. Here are the things I’ve noticed:

You’ll Be On Record at a Deposition

At your deposition, there will be a court reporter and a legal videographer. The court reporter transcribes everything said in the deposition while the legal videographer records the deposition on a video camera.

When the videographer says “on the record,” that means everything you say will be recorded and can be used in court. When the term “off-record” is said, that means the recording has stopped.

The record from the deposition can be used as evidence in court. When you’re “on the record,” everything you say can be used against you; however, it can also be used in your favor by your attorney. If you ever have important information regarding the case, always make sure that it is shared on the record so that it can contribute to the case.

You’ll Be Asked About the Incident

In the deposition, you’ll be asked to recount the incident(s) on hand that triggered the lawsuit. If it’s one particular incident, you’ll be asked to recount what you did that day before the incident and after.

You can expect to be asked about prescriptions you took at the time of the incident and whether or not any other variables contributed to whatever happened.

Was anyone else involved besides you and the party bringing the lawsuit against you? At what time of day did the incident happen? It’s a good idea to review this information before you walk into the deposition.

You’ll Be Shown Certain Evidence

In many depositions, you can expect to be shown evidence of a police report, a social worker report, or anything in this nature. You’ll be asked to look over the report and verify whether the information on the report is true or not.

If you are involved in a car crash personal injury case, for example, you will be shown the police report and pictures of the damage that the police officer would’ve taken at the scene. You’ll be asked to compare this evidence with what you remember for both parties to draw a more clearer picture of what happened.

You’ll Be Asked What You Think of the Situation

Lastly, you may be asked what you think of the situation. Do you think you were in the wrong? Could you have done anything to avoid the accident? If you’re in an accident, is it alright to not check on the person in the other vehicle to make sure they’re not hurt?

These are all questions I’ve heard been asked numerous times in depositions. Talk to your lawyer beforehand about these questions to see how you should answer.

As the deponent, if you’re wondering why you’re being called to a deposition, check out our article When Are Depositions Necessary? 

Take Time to Remember Details of the Incident in Question

As mentioned above, when you’re being deposed, you’ll be asked to recount information about a certain incident or incidents. You’ll need to remember things that happened leading up to the incident and what happened as the aftermath of the incident.

Before your deposition, write out all that you can remember in chronological order. The more you remember, the fewer holes there are to fill in your story. If there is any documentation you’ve kept or even a journal, review what you’ve written down. Your journal or a video recording could be considered evidence.

You’ll be asked to remember even the most random details like, what did you eat for breakfast that morning? What did you say to the police officer who was at the scene? Where was your phone at the moment of impact? It’s alright to answer with “I don’t know,” but that won’t help you as much as a good definite answer would.

Talk to Your Attorney Ahead of Time

If you’re feeling nervous about the deposition, talk to your attorney ahead of time. The good news is that your attorney will be sitting right next to you in the deposition and working on your behalf! They can give you more insight into what to expect.

Whether this is a personal injury case or a corporate lawyer is representing you, throughout the deposition, you can take a break, go off the record, and talk to your attorney. It’s important to remember that you’re not doing this deposition alone!

Your attorney can explain legal jargon you may hear in the deposition and what it means. They can even tell you what questions you shouldn’t answer. Check out our article, Can I Refuse to Answer Questions at a Deposition? If you’re in the deposition and these questions come up, the lawyer can even protect you from having to speak. In these situations, your lawyer is your best friend.

This Is Your Turn to Share Your Side of the Story

While it may feel as if you’re standing in front of a chopping block as the deponent, it’s important to know that a deposition can work in your favor. The great thing about depositions is that the deponents do the majority of the talking!

Now’s your time to share your side of the story. Up until this point, you may feel as if you haven’t been heard concerning the matter. Now, you’re in the room with your attorney, the opposing attorney, and the party that’s bringing the lawsuit against you. It’s the perfect time to tell them what happened and how you felt about it.

This Is Your Time to Appeal to the Other Party

A deposition is a perfect time to appeal to the party bringing the charges against you. You’ll be in the same room and they’ll be able to see how you talk about the incident and what your feelings are. They’ll be able to get an understanding of who you are as a person and will determine whether or not you deserve to be going through this.

For this reason, it’s important to maintain your composure in the deposition. No matter how angry you may feel towards the other party, showing your anger won’t help you in this situation. The best thing you can do is let your personality appeal to them so that they could be open to accepting a lower settlement or even dropping the lawsuit.

How a Deposition Record Can Be Used in Court

Once you’ve finished the deposition, it’s important to know how the deposition record can be used if your case were to make it to court.

In your deposition, you share your testimony. You probably feel that, at this point, you’ve shared it a thousand times. The reason why you’re asked to share it so many times is that people are looking for holes in your story. Does what you shared in your deposition contradict what you share on the stand? If so, then you can have a weak case.

A deposition record can also be used to your advantage in court. If you feel as if your deposition could appeal to a judge or jury on your behalf, your lawyer can request to receive a copy of the record from the legal videographer who shot the deposition.

All in all, preparing for your deposition ahead of time can make you feel more confident. If you know what to expect and understand how you may be able to benefit from the deposition, suddenly being in the same room as the person who is suing you can seem a lot easier.

I hope this article was helpful to you as you prepare for your deposition. Did you know that how you dress could also sway the other party’s opinions about you as the deponent? Check out our article What to Wear to a Deposition: Complete Guide.

This article was sponsored by Bruner Law Firm, a business lawyer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They specialize in small business and corporate law and have had much success helping businesses stay on top of legal matters. You can visit their OKC lawyer website here.

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Matt McWilliams
matt@mcwilliamsmedia.com