Tips for Working with a Personal Injury Deposition

Surprisingly, many cases have been won because of stellar depositions. If you have ever sat through a deposition with an experienced personal injury lawyer, the process can appear to be simple. As a result, most young or novice lawyers fail to appreciate some of the more intricate aspects of taking a deposition. For novice lawyers, it’s important to thoroughly understand how to prepare and defend a deposition. The following information provides a few tips for taking and defending depositions specifically for novice lawyers. 

Taking a Deposition

Although it is easy to take a deposition, taking a good deposition is much more tedious. Instead of making a general list of questions to ask a deponent, it’s best to understand what you need from the witness and your goals. From there, you can phase and structure your questions to illicit a favorable response. Since most parties and witnesses are not trained, they will provide you with the answer you desire if you ask them in the right way.

Once you have figured out the purpose and direction of your deposition, you should also consider:

  • What type of information are you looking for?
  • What is the purpose of the deposition, i.e. to perpetuate trial testimony or to gather information?
  • Is the deponent a friendly witness, adverse party, or an unfavorable witness?
  • Are there documents you need the witness to explain or authenticate?
  • Is the witness capable of helping you defeat or obtain summary judgment motions or other pretrial motions?

In any case, when you are taking a deposition, it is imperative your exhibits are prepared in advance.

Defending a Deposition

While defending a deposition is much easier than taking one, it doesn’t mean you should just wing it. Instead, you should always be prepared to defend your deposition by strategically planning, preparing, and anticipating which questions your client be asked.

Preparing the Deponent

One of most common concerns for novice lawyers is how to prepare the deponent without telling them or suggesting what their testimony should be. The best solution is to explain the case and how the witness’s testimony fits into the case. As a result, it’s best to develop a few key themes that support your case. Then you can effectively merge the themes into how you explain the case. While most witness will have no problem understanding your theme, some will. In this case, you should simplify your theme. 

About Albert Stoll

In his 20 years of law practice, Al has handled more than 40 jury trials. This experience, combined with a commitment to ethics and integrity, has earned Al an excellent reputation throughout the San Francisco Bay Area legal community. He is the recipient of Martindale-Hubbell‘s “AV” peer rating, which signifies preeminent legal ability and ethical standards, and has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2006. In 2009, Al was awarded the prestigious 2009 Civil Justice Award by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, given to attorneys who show integrity, grit, tenacity, ethics, and great advocacy skills, and who contribute to the betterment of consumers and/or injured victims and their families.