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I've been scheduled for a deposition. What does that mean?

If you suffered an injury while at work, you have more than likely already applied for workers' compensation benefits. However, you may have discovered that you could pursue additional compensation from a third party such as a manufacturer or motorist, among others, depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident. You may have determined that filing a lawsuit against that third party could help you obtain much needed compensation not provided by your workers' compensation benefits.

During the course of that litigation, the other side wanted to know more about what you intend to say during trial, so you may be called to give a deposition. Depositions may also be used to see if your "story" remains consistent in court since whatever answers you give during your deposition should match your testimony in court. Both proceedings are under oath, but no judge presides over a deposition.

What should I do during my deposition?

First, be honest. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. Even if your answer may make you look culpable for the accident in some way, failing to tell the truth could get you into trouble since the law considers it perjury. You could lose your case and possibly face criminal charges. Other tips that may help you through your deposition include the following:

  • Don't bring any documents other than those requested. Do not provide additional information not requested. In addition, you may not bring documents for your personal use during the deposition.
  • Be polite and stay calm. Don't make jokes, either. If you lose your temper, you may say something you regret.
  • Refrain from volunteering any information or providing further explanation not requested by the other side. Answer the question asked and nothing more. It may be tempting to justify or explain yourself, but don't.
  • Listen carefully to each question. If you don't understand what's being asked, get clarification. Attorneys sometimes ask "leading" questions that essentially put words into your mouth.
  • Take a moment to consider your answer to each question. This is going on the record, and you want to be as accurate as possible. Do not guess! Consider each answer carefully before saying anything.
  • If you need to, you can talk to your attorney about the question and your answer before going on the record. Feel free to take advantage of this right.
  • Be careful not to discuss statements made by other people. Stick to your story.
  • If you realize you misspoke or had to make an estimate, be sure to correct your mistake and make it clear that you made an estimate.

The bottom line is that you aren't required to know everything and to be able to answer all questions. Just do your best, and if you don't know the answer to a question, just say so.

Take advantage of available legal support

Sitting for a deposition can be nerve wracking and confusing. If you have not already done so, it may be of great benefit to consult with a California attorney who can help you through your deposition and the remainder of your claim.

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