Ever more frequently, in Texas, a lawsuit is required to obtain fair compensation for the personal injury victim. One of the components of a personal injury lawsuit is the giving of the deposition by the personal injury claimant.
Here are the 12 rules for giving a deposition in a personal injury case in Texas.
- Tell the truth– the single most important rule for giving sworn testimony is, to tell the truth. The defense hopes to find an untruth in your testimony that they can use against you at trial.
- Listen carefully to the question – do not anticipate a question and listen closely to what you are asked. Only answer the question that is asked.
- Do not let the attorney put words in your mouth– leading questions are part of the deposition process. If you do not agree with the leading question or the premise behind it – do not agree with the testimony.
- Watch out for continuous yes responses-one technique many defense lawyers use is to start with a series of truthful easy questions requiring a simple yes answer and then sneaking in a damaging question, hoping that you continue with the quick yes response.
- Do not guess – if you do not know the answer for certain, do not guess. It is perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know” or “I do not remember” in a deposition. If you do not know the date, you saw a treating physician or what you told a medical professional on a certain date -do not guess. I don’t know, or I don’t remember are acceptable answers.
- Qualify your answers when appropriate – if you are asked questions that involve “all” or “every” it is certainly acceptable to qualify your answers. “That’s all I can remember sitting here today” or “I would defer to my medical records” are examples of qualifying your answers.
- Be careful with time and distance– be careful estimating distances and how long something may have taken unless you are sure of the answer.
- Keep your answers as short as possible. “Yes”, “no” and “I do not recall” are all good answers.
- It is not your time to tell your story – depositions are not your chance to tell your story. Simply answering the question asked and not volunteering more information is important. If the defense lawyer does not ask the question, do not volunteer the answer. Every piece of information that you volunteer will drag the deposition on unnecessarily.
- Always be courteous to the attorney – the attorney is an adversary and will be doing his or her best to damage your case. Nevertheless, endeavor to be courteous and polite to the attorney asking the questions.
- If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification of the question before you attempt to answer the question.
- Take all the time you need before you answer the question. Even if a deposition is videotaped, it is important that you take your time and understand the question asked before you answer. Once you have answered your question -stop. Silence is your friend, make the defense attorney ask another question before you say another word.
Again, always tell the truth and use that as an overriding factor in giving your testimony. Make sure you understand the question and are comfortable with the answer before you respond. By telling the truth, not volunteering information and keeping your answers short and concise and responsive to the question asked, will make your deposition as short and painless as possible.
If you have questions about a Houston personal injury matter feel free to call the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no obligation consultation.