Tips For Testifying

Be Prepared

Before your deposition, you need to take the time to prepare with your own attorney and alone.  As most cases are settled before you go to trial, this can be the only chance you have to tell your side.  The quality of your deposition will often seriously impact the settlement value offered for your case which is why you need to do this well.

To prepare, you need to review your written responses, medical records and other documents related to your case ready for the deposition, learn about it here.  You will need to think about how to tell your story of the accident that occurred and how it affected your life.  You also need to know what your legal claims are and the defenses that will be raised.  This will ensure you are ready to tell your side and make a good impression.

 Try Making A Good Impression

The lawyer taking the deposition will use this time to evaluate your like ability and credibility which is why you need to make a good impression.  During the testimony, you need to avoid getting angry or annoyed.  This does not mean you cannot show any emotion during your testimony.  One of the goals of your deposition is to leave the attorney with an understanding of what a credible and likable person you are.

Listen To The Question And Understand It Before Answering

There are times when lawyers are going to ask you questions that do not make any sense.  Before you answer any questions, you need to fully understand it.  You should not be afraid of asking the lawyer to repeat the question or rephrase it if you do not understand.

Help The Court Reporter

A court reporter will be there to transcribe your testimony.  The only way this can be done accurately is if you wait for the question to finish before starting your answer.  All of your answers will also need to be verbal which means no nodding and shaking of the head.  Instead, you should state yes or no and avoid under mumbled answers.

 Be Accurate And Do Not Guess

There are times when telling the truth and being accurate means saying that you do not know or do not remember.  Witnesses often feel that they should answer or remember the answer and under the stress of the moment will make up an answer.  This is something you should avoid.

If you do not know the answer or do not remember, you need to say so.  If you are asked about dates, distance, time, speeds or other specific questions, you should not guess the answer.  If you are able to give ranges or approximates, you can, but make it clear that this is an approximation.

Read Documents Before Testifying About Them

Documents are often part of depositions including documents from the lawsuit, photographs, pay stubs, police reports, tax returns, and medical records.  If you have to answer a question about this document, you need to take the time to look at it and read it before you answer.  This will ensure your answers are as truthful as possible.

If You Are Uncomfortable Ask For A Break

If you are getting tired or confused, you need to ask for a break.  This is also something that you should ask for if you need to consult with your attorney.

 Correct Yourself Or Add Information

If you realize that you made a mistake later on the deposition or need to add something, you need to tell your lawyer.  The testimony can be corrected or supplemented to ensure that the transcript is accurate and completely truthful.

Be Careful Of Absolute Answers Unless You Are Sure

Defense attorneys are going to try and catch you in a contradiction by asking about injuries, medical treatments or accidents.  They will often ask if you have been injured in a past accident or if you have had any medical treatment in the past.  You have to be careful with absolute answers in these cases unless you are sure you are right.  Testifying that you have never been in an accident or never had treatment for neck pain can damage your case.  This will provide the defense with the proof they need to cast doubt on your truthfulness.

Tell The Truth

It is important that your testimony is completely truthful.  You will be under oath to tell the truth in the same way you are in court.  It is also important to remember that attorneys will use the internet to research and verify things.  Being caught in a lie is something that can kill your case whether this was intentional or not.