Lawsuit Mechanics: “How Should I Prepare For My Deposition?”
So, you are going to be giving deposition testimony soon. For many, especially if this is the first time you have been deposed, this can be a daunting and trying time while anticipating the unknown formal proceeding yet to take place. There are, however, a few things you can and should do to prepare for your deposition that will, hopefully, take away some of the fear surrounding the process and put you in the best place to present well and give positive testimony during the deposition. Here are a few suggestions and tips on how to prepare for (and ultimately succeed during) your deposition.
First, if you are represented by an attorney, you should meet with your attorney to go over the details of the case, the facts as you know them, and the general circumstances surrounding the case. If you are a party to the litigation, or even a critical witness, reviewing the documents from the case including the pleadings (to completely understand what both sides are claiming), any discovery responses, medical records, documents, pictures, etc., can help refresh your memory as to the circumstances surrounding the case and will allow you to go into your deposition with the benefit of having a refreshed recollection about various facts and circumstances. If you are not represented by an attorney, reviewing any of the documents listed above that you have access to can be beneficial. Many of the pleadings are public record and can be found on the clerk of court’s website. If you do not review any documents, taking the time to sit down and recall the facts and circumstance of the case you are being called to give deposition testimony in can be helpful.
The most important thing in the deposition is to tell the truth. The deposition has been set to determine what you know regarding the facts and circumstances and you simply need to tell the truth as you remember it. That is it. In the same vein, while telling the truth is of the utmost importance, you are under no obligation to guess, speculate, or make up any answers to the questions you are asked. In fact, guessing can lead to answers that are inconsistent with the facts and circumstances of the case and while you may think you are helping by trying to remember as much as possible, and providing as complete answers as possible, guessing can lead to issues down the road and should be avoided. When answering questions during your deposition if you are unsure of the answer in any way, you should explicitly state that you are guessing before answering or simply state that you do not know the answer.
Lastly, you should be aware of two more important and related rules to follow when you are providing testimony at your deposition: (1) answer only the question that is asked; and (2) a deposition is not the time to tell your life story.
While the question and answer process of a deposition can become natural and cordial, remember to stay focused and to only provide answers to the question asked which, brings up the second rule, this is not story time. Short and concise answers are the best plan of action when you are being deposed.
This is in no way a complete and exhaustive summary on how to prepare for your deposition. However, often reviewing this information, as well as other articles, meeting with your attorney, and recalling the facts and circumstances of the case, will put you well on your way to adequately preparing for your deposition.