First, you should know that you will be asked about the preparation itself, as if it’s being insinuated that your lawyer is instructing or coaching you how to answer questions on your case.
The most important thing to do in a deposition is listen. Listen to the question be asked. Don’t anticipate, don’t assume, and don’t just start answering what you thought you were going to be asked. Consider each question being posed to you, answer that question, and stop. It’s that simple. Don’t offer color commentary to the questions – simply answer them and wait for the next question. Don’t invite tangential lines of questions or allowing the other lawyer to carry you down some rabbit hole by offering more information than what is being sought.
Second, allow the other lawyer to ask you the question. While listening to the question being asked, take some time to consider the question. This will ensure that you and the other lawyer don’t step on each other or talk over one another. The deposition is being reported by a court reporter, and it’s impossible for him or her to take down what is being said if two people are speaking at the same time. Allow the other lawyer to finish his or her question before you answer it.
Speaking of the court reporter, he or she cannot properly record a shaking or nodding of the head, so it’s important to audibly voice your responses. If you’re pointing at something while responding, remember that body language is not recorded, and if the transcript of your deposition is read aloud to the jury, they won’t get the entire picture if you were pointing during your response or referring to something in the room or on the table. Additionally, uh-huhs and huh-uhs can be confusing when transcribed, so it’s important to audibly voice yes or no to straightforward questions (and going back to rule number one, if it’s a yes or no question, answer that way and stop).
If you do not perfectly understand the question being asked, or if the question can be interpreted in more than one way, ask the other lawyer to rephrase the question or ask it again. The last thing you want to be faced with is trying to explain to a jury that you answered wrong in your deposition because you didn’t understand what was being asked.
It’s important to go over every single scenario of the basis of the lawsuit over and over in your head to be able to recall all facts. Once you provide an answer in deposition, it is very difficult to change it or to give a different answer at trial without facing a serious (and potentially fatal) cross examination.
For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has been involved in representing victims of negligence for years.