Many claims end up in the court system simply because from time to time different insurance companies decide they don’t want to pay claims for a year or two. Claims that would ordinarily be settled now have to go to court. Depositions are a tool lawyers use to find out about the claims and the people in the case.
I can look at a case and tell you how it’s going to be defended. Insurance companies never just open up their pockets voluntarily. Either they argue that their client wasn’t at fault or that the other person wasn’t hurt as bad as they claim, or they were already hurt, and the accident didn’t cause it. They may take the position that the person did get hurt but now they are completely well.
The deposition is not just about the facts, it’s about how they are presented. If the person is authentic and makes a good impression, the case is worth more. If a person is surly, sarcastic, or sour, the case is generally worth less. How questions are answered is important.
When people give their depositions it’s important for them to listen to their lawyers. Very few people can walk into a deposition without preparation and do a good job. Occasionally, you will have a client who doesn’t follow your instructions but is harmless. Generally, people that don’t know what to do or can’t remember what to do, don’t do well at all.
Lawyers are going to tell their clients to listen to the question the other lawyer asks. They are going to tell their clients to answer the question that was asked and then stop talking completely. We will tell you to wait until the other lawyer finishes their question until you begin to answer. And the best advice that you can get is to be sure to say that you don’t know if you don’t know. People who talk and talk and guess and speculate and just run on like they’re the most charming person in the world end up with no case. I’ve seen people do superb jobs on depositions. I’ve seen people get mad and not follow instructions and absolutely lose the value of their case because they don’t make an effective and meaningful presentation.
If you ever have to give a deposition, ask yourself, how long do you think it will last? Ask yourself, what do you think you will be asked? Ask yourself, what are you most worried that you will be asked? After giving those three questions consideration, take the time a few weeks out from your deposition and sit down and talk with your attorney about what they expect to happen and how you might best approach the questions that will be asked. Joel and I have a short sample deposition from a car accident case that we mail our clients before their deposition simply so they can see what one looks like and read some of the questions they will be asked. Our clients do better as a result of understanding the process. Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!