Don’t Let the Deposition Do You In!
If your case is in litigation, you will likely be deposed by the attorney for the Employer/Insurer. From the perspective of the Employer/Insurer, a deposition is not only a fishing expedition for information, it is also an opportunity to attack your credibility. When giving your deposition, you will be under oath such that the deposition testimony can be used against you if your case goes to hearing. Below are our top ten deposition tips!
- Be honest in all of your answers. No matter how damaging or embarrassing an answer may be, the most important part of a deposition for you is to fully disclose all information truthfully. Most likely, the insurance company will find out the information through other means.
- Don’t guess!! Or speculate for that matter. “I don’t recall” or “I can’t remember exactly” are perfectly appropriate answers. More likely than not, that is the honest answer. It is impossible to recall specific dates or times, so don’t try to guess, it will only come back to bite you later.
- Don’t answer more than the question that you are asked. Many times we want to explain our answers, a deposition is not necessarily the place for that. It is the job of your attorney at the end of the deposition to rehabilitate your testimony if need be. Your best bet is just answer the question that you are asked and don’t offer additional information unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Make eye contact with the opposing attorney. Don’t look away when he or she asks a question, and whatever you do, don’t look at your attorney when the tough questions are asked!
- Don’t be afraid of questions regarding any criminal history. These questions are routine, but really have no relevance to your claim unless you have been convicted of crimes that are related to fraud or moral turpitude. This is one area where honesty is critical, and be sure to be candid with your attorney about any criminal history so that he or she can deal with those questions head on and have all of the information necessary to address those issues.
- One of the most important issues of your deposition will be related to prior medical history. In preparing for your deposition, take some time to really think about any prior injuries or medical treatment, specifically to the body part that was injured on the job. Discuss this with your attorney prior to the deposition. The insurance company will be looking for pre-existing conditions to help them avoid liability.
- Take your time when you answer a question. There is no need to speed through your answers. Taking a moment to pause and think about your answer is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
- Remember your audience. Not only will the insurance company be reviewing this deposition, but portions of it may be presented to the Judge if your case goes to hearing. Be sure to speak with respect for the process and not to lose your cool. Answer questions clearly and be sure to not come across as evasive in your answers.
- Speak clearly. At the deposition, a court reporter will be taking down your testimony which will later be transcribed. Speak loudly so that nothing is missed and make sure your answers are verbal. The court reporter can’t take down shaking your head yes or no. Remembering this tip will make the deposition run more smoothly.
- If you don’t understand a question, make sure to ask the attorney to rephrase it or let him know that you don’t understand what you are asking. Once you have answered a question, the defense attorney will assume that you understood it, so ask for clarification as many times as you need to until you are comfortable answering the question as it is asked.
Above all else, RELAX! The calmer your disposition, the more believable your testimony will be. Your attorney is there to make sure that the deposition runs smoothly and to assist you in rehabilitating your testimony if necessary.
Heather D. Froy, Esq.