Be Prepared for the Deposition

 In personal injury

Insurance defense attorneys always want to take the injured claimant’s deposition because that is when the defense attorney makes their money. The insurance defense attorney also tries to make the injured claimant look bad, often through no fault of the plaintiff. Insurance defense attorneys take classes on how to make the injured claimant look bad for reasons that often have nothing to do with the case.

Sometimes our clients have had previous cases and I always ask what was done to prepare them for their deposition. It is amazing how many say that they met with their attorney for 30 minutes before the deposition started, or worse, there was no deposition preparation at all. We at Timmons, Owen, Jansen & Tichy, Inc. believe that deposition preparation is vitally important to the client’s case.

Deposition preparation may require more than one meeting and it may last for a number of hours. Prior to meeting with the client the lawyer must review all documents relevant to the case including but not limited to the police report, witness statements and medical records before and after the accident. Often, the claimant does not even know what is stated in such documents, and the Insurance defense attorney seeks to cross-examine the injured claimant on information he/she never knew or may have forgotten.

If wage loss is an issue, employment records, K-1s or W-2’s need to be examined by the lawyer. We never disclose the entire income tax return of our client. That just gives the insurance defense attorney something to pick at that has nothing to do with the case at hand.

In order for our client to understand what is happening in the deposition, the client meeting must include an overview of what a deposition is and how it relates to the case. Its importance must be stressed as answers changed at trial will lead to the defense hammering home the notion of a changed story, which more often than not, is not true.

Just as important is how to approach answering the questions. Specifically, the first rule is to be truthful. Our clients are instructed to listen to the question and make sure the question is understood. Once the question is understood, we instruct our clients to answer that question. We don’t try to justify or explain the answer unless asked. We instruct our clients not to exaggerate and do not guess. These are just a few of the rules that need to be discussed and understood by our clients.

In order to assure the client is ready, it is vital that part of the meeting include practice time. Our clients will know what is going to be asked in advance. There will be questions that are different, but with the rules in mind and the practice done, the client will be in a much better position to tackle what lies ahead in the deposition.