Defendants will very frequently schedule a deposition. While they may just be trying to uncover specific information, more often than not, they are trying to get a sense of you. This is the first time the defendants will have seen you. The defense attorney reports back to his or her clients, the claims adjuster. What are you like? Are you honest? How disabled are you? Are you ever going to return to work? What type of medical care do you need to recover?
In preparation for your deposition, the following are some basic rules you should keep in mind:
Most depositions take about two hours. You should be prepared to testify for at least that long. There is no way to know in advance how long your testimony will take. There is no specific dress code, other than to wear something comfortable.
The deposition is a question-and-answer session only. An attorney from our office will be by your side as you answer questions from the defense attorney. The court reporter takes down everything that is said, to create a transcript. You will have the opportunity to review your testimony. However, if you follow the following simple rules, you will get your testimony right the first time. This is not the time to tell your story, this is a question and answer session only.
Listen to all questions that are asked. Only answer what has been asked of you. Most of the questions can be answered with a yes or no. Occasionally, the answer will require a short answer. For example, if the defense attorney asks if you have children, the answer would be yes or no. You should not be telling the defense attorney that you have 2 children, one of who is biological... If the defense attorney wants to know that information, they will ask you. Otherwise, only answer what was asked.
If you answer, then you understood the question. Do not answer if you do not understand the question. Simply say you do not understand, and the defense attorney will rephrase or repeat the question.
Do NOT guess. IF you do not know an answer, say so. It is perfectly acceptable to say that you do not recall or you do not know.
The defense attorney is entitled to know what you know as you sit there during your deposition. You are not required to study before you answer. If there is information that you need to know, my office will go over it with you when you prepare you before your testimony.
The defendants are entitled to your best estimate. A best estimate is NOT a guess. It is an answer that reveals you have some information, but maybe not the specifics. For example, if the question was when was the last time you went to the doctor? If you were certain about the date, you would testify to the specific date. Otherwise, you might be able to testify to your best estimate, ie, it was last week or a month ago. The answer is not a guess, but your best estimate.
If you need to take a break at any time during the testimony, just say so. If you are unsure how to answer a question, you should ask for a break to speak with your lawyer outside of the room the deposition is being taken in. You can also sit and/or stand while providing answers. If you feel physically unable to continue, let your attorney know. We will re-schedule your deposition. However, rescheduling the deposition so that your testimony can be completed will prolong your case.
IF your attorney is objecting to a question, DO NOT ANSWER. It does not do any good if we are objecting and you are answering the question! Objections are rare. However, if we object, allow us to finish our objection and then wait for instructions before you answer. More often than not, we are interjecting. That is when we clarify something the parties are talking about.
The defendants can ask questions that are relevant or can lead to the discovery of relevant information. The defendants can ask a lot of questions you may think have nothing to do with your worker’s compensation case. If we do not object, then you need to answer the question. Please do not object yourself. Please do not question the purpose of each question you have been asked. Again, answer questions if there is no objection.
The defendants will ask if you have ever been convicted of a felony. Typically a felony conviction results in spending more than one year in prison as a result of the conviction. PLEASE be certain to tell our office in your deposition preparation about all arrests, misdemeanors or felony convictions, whether you think they are important or not. Surprises are never good. We need to be prepared and need to prepare you for your testimony. So, please provide this information to your lawyer before the testimony begins.
Do not bring items with you, unless we specifically ask you to do so. You do not need to study any items or reports before the deposition begins. Do not volunteer to provide additional information to the defense attorney. For example, when asked for an address of your physician, do not volunteer to drive by the doctor’s office and then call him/her with the information later. Do not respond to a question by saying let me check my notes or calendar. Once you tell the defendants about additional documents, ie a calendar at home, they can ask to see it. So, let’s not help the defendants and the insurance company investigate your case.
Only one person can talk during the deposition at a time. The court reporter literally types everything that is said. It is difficult to type what two people are saying at the same time. Do not talk over the attorney. Allow the attorney to completely finish his/her question before you answer. In addition to creating a record, you need to know what you are answering before you answer it. So allow him/her to finish answering the question before you answer it. All answers must be audible. That means you can not nod your head. The court reporter can not take down non-verbal responses. Similarly, you can not point to a body part and say it hurts here. You need to say it hurts on the top of my head or bottom of the right foot, or wherever.
My office schedules preparation time 30 minutes before your deposition. Unless we specifically ask you, we do not need more time. Please do not make an appointment to discuss your deposition when you receive a notice, as you will need to be prepared twice, and that is a waste of everyone’s time.
If you have specific questions about your case, write them down. We will try to answer them when the deposition is concluded.
We schedule depositions in the first available time slot. If you will not be able to attend at the scheduled time, please contact our calendar clerk and we will make arrangements to reschedule. However, given the calendar constraints, the next available date may be several months away.
We do have the opportunity to ask you questions at the end of your testimony. So if something was not clear, we have the right to ask questions to clear it up. Just because we do not ask any questions at the end of your deposition, does not mean that we were not listening. Remember that sometimes things are better off unsaid than said.