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5 Don’ts at a Deposition in a Personal Injury Case


You Will Not Have to Sit for a Deposition Unless Your Case Is in Litigation.

There are 5 common mistakes made by claimants at a deposition.

  1. Talking too much. This occurs repeatedly by talkative people. Example: if the question is “What day of the week is today?”, there is a ONE-word answer for that question. There is no explanation needed. The more a witness talks, the more information the witness is giving against himself or herself, and the more questions he or she is inviting in the deposition. It is not your task to do the job of the opposing counsel. Answer only the question asked.

  2. Guessing. Don’t GUESS. If you recall the answer with 100% clarity, then of course answer the question truthfully. Too many people guess at the answer to a question. If you went to your doctor a year ago but cannot remember exactly what you told them, don’t GUESS what you told them. Any discrepancy between your testimony and medical records will be used against you. Any discrepancy between your testimony and any record opposing counsel can locate will be used against you. The better choice is to say “I don’t recall”, “I’m not sure”, “That answer may be in my medical records”, etc. Don’t GUESS. A GUESS goes down in the deposition as a fact, which can appear to be a lie when compared with other evidence.

  3. Becoming combative. If you argue with the opposing counsel you are not helping yourself. While it may feel good temporarily to try to put opposing counsel in their place, they will report back to the decision-makers on the case that the claimant is combative and will not make a good appearance in front of a jury.

  4. Avoiding the question, not answering straightforward. Similar to being combative, jurors do not like it when a claimant cannot give a simple answer to a simple question. Answer questions straightforward, not like a politician would. Again, the opposing counsel is going to report back whether you appeared to dodge questions or answer a question straight-forward.

  5. Don’t bend the truth. Many people do not realize that opposing counsel will work to get prior medical records, will check them out on social media, will potentially contact former employers, contact other witnesses, and possibly conduct surveillance, etc. When a claimant answers a question “I never did…”, “I just cannot do… anymore”, or “I have never complained of pain or injury to this part of my body previously…”, the opposing counsel is going to do everything they can to prove that is false. Think about your answer before you state it. When you make a statement in the deposition it is like placing your answer in granite. If a person says something in a deposition — which later proves to be false — the opposing counsel then converts the case away from the injuries and makes the case about the claimant’s “untruthful answers”.

Remember a deposition is an adversarial proceeding. The opposing counsel is there to help them and their team, not you — and this is regardless of how nice they may seem or not. They are there against you, not for you. If you make the above 5 mistakes you are helping the opposing counsel against you. This is also why you need an experienced attorney at your side throughout the deposition.

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