How To Prepare for a Deposition in Philadelphia
Ryan Zavodnick | April 4, 2023 | Personal Injury
Whether you are the plaintiff in a personal injury case or a witness to an accident, it is important to prepare for your deposition in Philadelphia.
Many people assume that they can answer questions on the fly. This can backfire and result in a stressful or bad deposition experience. With a bit of preparation, you can ensure that your deposition goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is out-of-court witness testimony given under oath. Any plaintiff, defendant, or witness may be deposed.
Even though a deposition happens outside of the courtroom, the process can feel very formal. You may have even received an official subpoena. There are many procedures that lawyers must follow when deposing witnesses in Philadelphia, PA.
What Is the Purpose of a Deposition?
The purpose of a deposition depends on the lawyer’s strategy and the specifics of the personal injury case. Some of the most common reasons to depose a witness include:
- Find out what information the witness knows
- Identify new evidence to support your case
- Force the witness to make statements under oath (so they can’t change them later)
- Discredit a witness or expose them as unreliable
- See how a witness will testify before questioning them in front of a jury
If you are the plaintiff being deposed by the defense attorney, it is usually the only opportunity for the defense to hear your story before trial. Under Pennsylvania law, the defense attorney cannot speak to someone represented by a lawyer about the case.
Plus, the plaintiff’s testimony may influence whether or not the defense makes a settlement offer and the amount.
Deposition Tips for Success
Chances are your lawyer will have some tips before your deposition, like advice on what to wear. They can also anticipate the types of questions you may be asked and prepare you for specific issues relevant to the case. You should always listen to their advice and take the time to prepare with your lawyer.
Review Your Testimony Beforehand
You should always take time to review your testimony in the weeks and days leading up to the deposition. It is normal for memories to fade over time, especially depending on the timeline of your case. Reviewing your testimony can refresh your memory and ensure you are giving the most accurate answers at the deposition.
Some ways to review your testimony are listening to any recorded statements, reading relevant journal entries or statements to the police, and reviewing relevant medical records. This can help you remember small details that you may have forgotten.
Only Answer the Question Asked
You want to limit your testimony to only answering the question asked. This keeps you from offering too much information that the other side can either use against you or use to discover evidence that may help them.
Remember that your lawyer will have the opportunity to ask you questions at the deposition. They can clarify any details or points of contention and make sure that your story is fully told. You should trust that your lawyer will give you a chance to elaborate if it is in your best interest.
Clarify Confusing Questions
Sometimes lawyers ask confusing questions. This can be by accident or on purpose in an attempt to confuse you. You should never answer a question unless you fully understand it. If you don’t, you should ask the lawyer to clarify the question or ask it differently. You do not want to risk answering the question incorrectly simply because you didn’t understand it.
One of the main reasons for a deposition is to see how a witness will testify. The other side will want to check if they can rattle or upset you. Remember that this is all part of the process.
Don’t let them shake your confidence. You should always stay calm, answer questions slowly and confidently, and don’t get angry with opposing counsel. If you do, it may reflect poorly on you instead of them.
Always Tell the Truth
The most important tip is to always tell the truth. You are under oath when you give a deposition. If you lie, you have committed perjury, which is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison. It may be difficult to be honest at certain points, but it is better than getting caught in a lie.
A Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Prepare for Your Deposition
If you have questions or need help preparing for a deposition, reach out to an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney. They’ll explain the process and ensure that you know what to expect.