There are rules that govern the deposition procedures. After being sworn in to tell the truth, you will be given instructions by the lawyer handling the deposition. Our overall guiding instructions are that if you do not understand the question, even if you do not understand one word that is included in the question, ask for an explanation, a clarification, or ask that a question be repeated. If you answer a question as it was asked, then it is going to be assumed that you understood the question and answered it quickly, fully and accordingly. If while thinking about the question and the response, you forget part or all of the question, you can ask for it to be repeated, there is no problem with that.

People get into a problem answering questions when they do not really understand the question, forget part of the question, or they guess at the answer.

What Should Someone Wear at a Personal Injury Deposition?

That may vary depending on who you are; your lawyer will give you instructions on how to dress accordingly. Generally, I advise people to wear something more than casual clothing. Sometimes I advise people to wear something they would wear for a job interview, a religious service, or perhaps going to a meeting with your child’s teacher at school. You want to make a nice presentation.

What Actually Happens at a Deposition?

Hopefully, when you sit down to have your deposition taken, you will be offered some refreshments or something to drink while you are providing your responses, but from a technical standpoint, the lawyers will discuss some of the ground rules. The phrase “usual stipulations” will likely be spoken by one or more lawyers. When they are ready, the stenographer will swear you in as a witness. You will swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and then the lawyer taking the deposition will give some more instructions. Then it becomes a question and answer session. Your lawyer or one of the lawyers may interpose some objections.

There are some objections uttered where you should not say anything or something that is privileged. For example, instructions given by your attorney are privileged, as are all attorney client communications. You will not have to respond to that unless your lawyer withdraws the objection, which would usually be followed by an instruction to answer that question. Aside from something that is privileged, you pretty much have to answer every question that is posed to you unless your lawyer exercises some privilege related to your being harassed in some way. Harassment is a very unusual occurrence at a deposition.

From time to time, you will likely hear your lawyer objecting to the form of the question. That is a technical legal issue that relates to the way the question was phrased. If a question is objected to, then the lawyer must rephrase his question, perhaps inquiring of the objective lawyer as to the reason that the form of the question was deficient in some way. The lawyers will then decide how to proceed. If a lawyer states a question to any objection, you should wait until that issue is resolved before answering the question. At the conclusion of the first lawyer’s questions and your answers, the other lawyers in the room will be permitted to ask questions if they so desire. Throughout the deposition, there may be exhibits that are marked. They could be documents that you have seen or not have seen before; they will be marked either Plaintiff’s Exhibit 1 or A or Defendant’s Exhibit 1 or A, and so on. The stenographer will get that straight. If and when you are asked questions about a document, you should always ask to see the document to make sure that you are certain about your response. You should never guess, particularly when there could be another document that you are thinking about. So make sure that you understand what document is being discussed.

You also have the right to read and sign your deposition after it is complete. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the stenographer to prepare the transcript. The transcript can be sent to you, and then you have the right to complete an errata sheet. An errata sheet is a document that you complete by listing the page, line number, and any changes that are required. The ability to redefine the deposition is not an invitation to wholesale-basis change the testimony, but it is designed to accommodate any misspoken words on your part or erroneously transcribed words on part of the stenographer. A yes might become a no; a five might become a six; things like that. But again, to reinforce the point, the use of an errata sheet, reserving the right to read and sign a deposition, is not an open invitation to change your testimony.

For more information on Process of Personal Injury Deposition, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (203) 325-8600 today.