Your deposition in a court case may be the first time you've ever been asked to give legal testimony under oath. Because the questions may be very personal and your answers may be important to your case, and because you'll be testifying in a room with your Atlanta lawyer and one or more opposing lawyers, a deposition can be intimidating. If you're giving a deposition in a Georgia civil case, it helps to know ahead of time what to expect.
Before Your Deposition A deposition is a formal meeting, usually around a conference table in a law office, at which you answer questions under oath. Most questions will be asked by the other party's lawyer, although your own attorney may occasionally ask you a question to clarify an answer you have given. Under Georgia law, a deposition can't last more than seven hours. You'll have to swear to tell the truth, and your answers will be either recorded by a court reporter typing on a special machine, or by an electronic recording device.
Your Atlanta attorney will talk to you ahead of time about the type of questions you're likely to be asked in your particular case, and explain anything that you do not understand. Generally, you should expect the other party's lawyer to ask questions about the basic facts of your case, and questions designed to expose any weaknesses they think might exist in your case. These will include information about yourself and details about what happened. If there's something you find embarrassing that you think might come up at the deposition (such as a bankruptcy, a criminal conviction, a messy divorce, or other situation) tell your lawyer about it ahead of time.
Your attorney will help you prepare for your testimony about whatever it is that is embarrassing to you. If your attorney thinks that subject is not an appropriate matter for questions, your attorney will tell you to remain silent if you are asked about it, and at the deposition, your attorney will object to the question and instruct you not to answer. Even though a deposition isn't a trial, it is a very serious occasion. Wear conservative clothes (like you would for a job interview), arrive on time, and be on your best behavior. Let the opposing lawyer finish speaking before you answer, don't argue, and be polite, even if the questions upset you.
Remember, the opposing lawyer will take your behavior and appearance at the deposition as an indication of how you would testify and act at trial, and if you act badly, it can result in a less favorable settlement offer from the other side. During the Deposition: Answering Questions Before the questions begin, you will be asked to swear an oath to tell the truth. That means you have to answer everything you're asked truthfully, to the best of your knowledge. A dishonest answer can backfire badly ? if you are caught, any settlement offer may be less favorable, and if you forget that you lied and give a different answer at trial, a jury may decide you are not to be trusted about anything and decide against you for that reason alone.
Listen carefully to each question, and answer only what is asked. You should not volunteer information that is not asked for, nor should you chat with the other lawyer or other party (if they are present) during breaks. When it's possible, stick with "yes" and "no" answers when asked.
And if you don't know the answer, say so. Do not make up information. You can take time to think about what actually happened before answering.
One important way in which a deposition is not like a trial is that you're allowed to take breaks. If you need to use the bathroom, talk to your attorney or just get some fresh air, you should ask. During the Deposition ? Answering Hostile or Embarrassing Questions At a deposition, you can expect some of the other lawyer's questions to seem hostile or overly personal. Unfortunately, that's part of the deposition process.
It's the other lawyer's job to find out everything that might matter to the outcome of the case, both good and bad, personal and impersonal, including information that might be helpful to the other side. But there are rules about what kinds of questions can be asked. Your attorney will object and tell you not to answer if the question breaks the rules. However, you should not be the person who argues with the other lawyer, even if you are asked a question you feel is inappropriate or irrelevant.
If your attorney is silent, ask for a break to discuss the question with your attorney. If you're facing hostile questions, remember that you're not being timed. You can and should take a moment to think about your answer. Not only does it help you give the best possible answer, but it prevents the other lawyer from building up momentum.
If you're asked a question that's really two or more questions, ask the questioner to break it down for you. Watch out for questions about how you're feeling. In ordinary conversation, it's polite to say you're "fine." In a deposition, the questioner could use that answer to argue that you are in better health than you actually are. If you are an accident victim and have suffered serious injury from a workplace or car accident Atlanta, for example, be prepared to talk in detail about your injuries and the kinds of pain you feel.
You should also be careful of questions that ask about specific details. For example, the other lawyer might ask you about the exact time an event occurred, or details about other persons who were present. Most people won't remember those details specifically, especially if they were an accident victim with a serious injury. Unless you can remember the exact time of day something happened, it's best to say it was "about" or "approximately" the time you remember.
If you can remember exactly, expect the other lawyer to ask you why you remember so well. Finally, sometimes the other lawyer will ask you a question that assumes something untrue. For example, "When did you decide to file a frivolous lawsuit against our client?" Don't ignore the part of the question that isn't true; some would take that to mean you agree.
Instead, you should point out that you don't agree with part of the question, and then answer the other part. For example, "I don't believe that my lawsuit is frivolous, as you suggested. But I can tell you what day we filed it.
" After the Deposition After the deposition, your attorney will receive a document that contains the record of the questions and your answers as they were recorded. You may have an opportunity to make corrections to your testimony at that time; your attorney can discuss with you whether this is a good idea. If your case does not settle, your attorney will use your deposition to help you prepare to testify at trial. However, a good deposition ? where your answers are clear and truthful, and you are polite and prepared -- may be very helpful to your attorney in obtaining a favorable settlement in your case.
Help for Georgia Accident Victims If you've been injured in a Georgia accident because of another person's fault - even if you were also at fault - Atlanta injury lawyers can help you. Gregory M. Stokes and Neil J. Kopitsky have over 30 years of experience helping injured people and their families get justice and payment when they are involved in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, or workplace accident.
They've recovered millions of dollars in payments for clients in Atlanta accident, Atlanta wrongful death cases, and Georgia injury or death cases. Your initial telephone or office consultation is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL, and fees are paid only from what is recovered for you. Please call toll-free at 1-(800) 552-9200 any time, any day, to speak with them. Or, visit their website at www.stokesinjurylawyers.com for more information on how they can help you.
Atlanta accident lawyers Stokes and Kopitsky have successfully helped hundreds of injured clients recover payment for insurance claims, medical bills, lost pay, pain and suffering, and more. Please call us for a free consultation.