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Your Deposition: Always Tell the Truth and Keep it Short

If you are involved in an accident and you file a personal injury lawsuit, the defense will want to take your deposition. What does this mean? This is a meeting held prior to the trial date where the defendant’s attorney will have you take the oath and then ask you questions about your background, the accident and your injuries. You and your personal injury lawyer will also have the right to take the defendant’s deposition.

As a personal injury attorney, there are two basic rules I have for depositions:

  1. Always tell the truth
  2. Only give information that is specifically asked of you — never volunteer any information

In other words, keep your answers short and truthful.

There is one exception to the rule that you should only tell the opposing attorney what they ask for, and no more – and that is when the defense attorney questions you about your injury and how you feel. This is your opportunity to make sure the opposing counsel fully understands the nature of your injuries and the extent of your pain and suffering.  A tactic that is commonly used by defense attorneys is to ask you how you feel on that day. As everyone knows, injured clients will have good days and bad days. If the deposition occurs on a day when you are feeling better, also describe how you feel on bad days.

There is no exception to telling the truth – always be truthful no matter what the defense attorney asks. At your deposition, the opposing counsel will ask you about your past to look for possible issues to use against you if your case goes to trial. The attorney will be looking for issues like a prior criminal conviction or dishonorable discharge, for example. You should answer honestly, because in most cases, the information will not admissible at trial. But, because you are under oath at the deposition, the fact that you lied about the issues is admissible at trial. I always tell my personal injury clients that the  #1 rule of sworn testimony is always tell the truth.

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