If you’re a plaintiff in a Florida injury lawsuit, particularly one that’s on track to trial, it’s likely at some point you’ll need to undergo a deposition. It can be an intimidating prospect, but a skilled West Palm Beach injury lawyer can help ensure you are fully prepared.
A deposition is a sworn statement given outside of a courtroom, but still under oath. They’re transcribed by a court reporter, and these days often video recorded. Sometimes, depositions can be done remotely. This isn’t generally the preferred method unless there are special circumstances (i.e., the witness lives far away). However, it is one that has become increasingly more common since COVID had virtually everyone on virtual video conferencing apps.
What is the Point of a Deposition?
In tort cases, depositions can prove pivotal in gathering information and evidence that will be key to the case. In general, both sides are going to leverage the deposition to question witnesses and:
- Establish the events that led to the injury.
- Detail the medical treatment plaintiff received as a result of the injury.
- Delve into the impact the injury has had on plaintiff’s ability to work, personal relationships, and overall quality of life.
- Identify inconsistencies in testimony.
- Glean information from expert witnesses (if there are any) about their analysis, processes, and conclusions.
When a plaintiff undergoes a deposition, they should know that defense lawyers are likely looking for any statements that might:
- Indicate you share part of the blame for what happened.
- Implicate a pre-existing condition as the primary cause of your injuries.
- Show your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim.
- Reveal life hasn’t been as significantly impacted as you claim.
- Uncover that you have not been fully truthful or consistent in your claims.
All of this can make a plaintiff feel very much “on the offensive.” It’s easy to get flustered, get loud, misspeak, etc. But when you know this is coming, you can better maintain your composure and complete the deposition without damaging your case.
Top Mistakes People Make in Personal Injury Case Depositions
Depositions can be a game-changer in a West Palm Beach personal injury case, so it’s super important that you are prepared. Sometimes, one of the best ways our attorneys help clients get ready is to explain what NOT to do.
Some of our top deposition DON’TS include:
- Talk too much. If the attorney is asking a yes-no question, only give them a yes-no answer, and don’t elaborate unless prompted. If you are asked an open-ended question, try to limit your responses to no more than two sentences. Listen carefully to the exact question being asked and don’t answer more than that. Stick to the point. Avoid getting cornered with “gotcha” follow-ups like, “Is there anything else you want to tell me?” You can simply say, “That’s all I can think of for now.”
- Lie. Don’t ever lie. Chances are, the person asking the question already knows the answer. If you lie, you’ll be damaging your credibility. Sometimes, a plaintiff will lie about a seemingly minor thing because they’re embarrassed or shy about it, but the consequence to their credibility can be significant. If there is an aspect about which you really don’t want to speak, bring it up with your lawyer. We will consider its relevance and importance. If it’s not relevant to the case, we’ll be there at the deposition to shut down that line of questioning.
- Get flustered. We get it – this is probably not an easy thing to talk about. It may be one of the most traumatic things you’ve ever endured. But if you get extremely defensive, argumentative, or rude, that will not help. Remember that a recording of your deposition could very likely wind up before a jury. Do your best to keep yourself collected.
- Try to sweet-talk the defense. You’re not convincing them of anything. They’re getting paid (probably well) to prove you wrong.
Our West Palm Beach injury lawyers will do all we can to ensure our clients are as prepared as possible for your deposition.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
More Blog Entries:
Understanding Evidence Spoliation When Filing Palm Beach Injury Lawsuit, Sept. 30, 2023, West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer Blog