There is More to Your Case Than the Trial: Depositions
Houston car accident lawyer Steve Lee has been providing legal counsel for car accident victims in the Houston area for just under four decades. He makes sure to give his clients the complete benefit of his years of experience and legal skill in every aspect of their case, from dealing with insurers and hospitals to getting through the trial itself. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Houston, contact Steve Lee for a free legal consultation today.
Judging from what most of us have seen on television, a trial consists of a lawsuit being filed, both parties immediately going to court, aggressive questioning of witnesses, impressive speeches by both plaintiff and defense, and a jury foreman solemnly declaring “guilty” or “not guilty.”
There is much more to it than that.
In movies or television, trials are sculpted into neat little hour or two hour packages, and while the viewer is entertained, they don’t get a very accurate picture of the work and preparation that goes into a trial.
A key part of any lawsuit is the discovery process, in which either party is given (relatively) free reign to get as much information as possible that would be deemed relevant to the case. A big part of this is the deposition. This is when the attorneys take the opportunity to question witnesses to see what they know or don’t know before the case. They take this information under oath, and the penalties for lying under a deposition are just as severe as they are if you lie in a courtroom.
It isn’t as dramatic as the witness stand in a courtroom. In fact, depositions often take place in mundane places like hotel conference rooms or meeting rooms in office buildings. But make no mistake, the testimony taken during a deposition is just as important as testimony that takes place in a courtroom.
So how do you handle a deposition? Very carefully. Here are a few notes on what to expect.
Be in Contact With Your Lawyer: In many cases, the notification of the deposition should be delivered to your attorney’s office. He should then notify you immediately. If the notification of the deposition has been delivered to you directly, call your lawyer immediately.
After the notification, it is incredibly important to get ready for the deposition. You should spend a considerable amount of time going over both the facts of the case and the testimony that you plan to give. If you have been as forthcoming as possible, your attorney should know what line of questioning to expect, and he or she should prepare you for that.
Organize Your Testimony: By the time a deposition happens, the event in which it is in reference to probably happened quite a few months ago. So you should spend as much time as possible going over what you saw. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean that you should have answers that you have memorized like a script. For one thing, giving answers that seem rehearsed can come back to hurt you later, as the attorneys for the other side will be viewing this deposition over and over again. It is very easy to get thrown off if you are in the middle of the script and you receive a question that you aren’t expecting. Instead of having a script, just answer the questions to the best of your ability.
Dress appropriately. A deposition might not take place in a courtroom, but it is still a very serious thing.
Be patient. Wait until the entire question has been asked before you answer. Don’t be in a hurry to answer anything.
Avoid non-verbal answers. Say yes or no instead of nodding or shaking your head.
Get a good night’s sleep before the deposition. Showing up bleary eyed and unfocused will not do you any good.
It is important to understand that a deposition is as important to the outcome of your case as your day in court. It is in your best interests to be as prepared as you possibly can.
Our clients can expect to be fully briefed and prepared for any deposition, and they can expect to be represented to the best of our considerable abilities. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in the Houston area, contact Attorney Steve Lee for a free case assessment today.