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Preparing a Plaintiff for Deposition

Preparing a Plaintiff for Deposition

The May 2014 issue of Plaintiff Magazine discussed how plaintiff’s attorneys can prepare clients for a deposition in an auto accident personal injury case.

The author of the article observed that the questions by opposing attorneys are usually the same in auto cases so it is simple to prepare a client for a deposition. A client can be prepared in advance on what will be asked. The value of a case can sometimes hinge on preparation.

According to the author, the purpose of depositions is not for the plaintiff to tell his or her story.  The deposition is for the opposing party to box the party into providing testimony that will benefit the opposing party’s experts and attorneys at trial.

Though the questions may seem innocent, there is strategy involved in the process. The opposing party at a deposition may be evaluating how a witness will present at trial. The client should dress well even though the deposition may not be videotaped.

The client’s manners will be assessed to determine settlement value, and what a jury might award.  For instance, claimant likability may have a meaningful impact on a jury or judge.

The attorney should familiarize the client with the admonitions of a deposition, such as not to talk on top of one another. Trial begins at the discovery stage, not at the trial itself. Once a person provides evidence, it is hard to take it back.  Evidence becomes public for the world to see and research.

To decrease anxiety during a deposition, a client might practice with audio or video to ensure the client is comfortable speaking in front of an audience. The client might visit the scene of the accident to recount details of the incident, such as the directions, landmarks, number of lanes. This way the client can testify accurately and seem more credible.

The witness will be questioned on where he or she was going, the time of day, why the person was taking the route, what was happening inside the car such as conversations with passengers. The client should familiarize with the workings of a car so he or she can testify with confidence when asked about the safety of seats and cabins.

The more prepared a plaintiff is for a deposition, the more likely traps to place blame can be avoided.  The opposing party wants to establish comparative fault. The injuries a plaintiff suffers need to be consistent with the accident. When a plaintiff is not consistent, a deposition can become a losing point.

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