It’s very common to feel anxious about the prospect of testifying at a deposition or a trial.
You may be nervous about saying the wrong thing or worried about how the other side’s lawyer will question you.
The good news is that most personal injury cases are resolved with a settlement, so you may never be asked to testify at deposition.
And it’s even more likely that you won’t have to take the stand in court.
Even so, it is sometimes necessary to testify in a deposition or in court to get the compensation you deserve.
If that happens in your case, the following tips and explanations will help make the experience go more smoothly.
And remember, experienced personal injury attorneys like those at VanDerGinst Law will help you every step of the way.
What is a Deposition?
In a nutshell, a deposition is a way for the attorneys to obtain the testimony of important witnesses in a case without the need to go before a judge or to have a trial.
It allows attorneys to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case early in the litigation.
It also helps the attorneys determine what would likely happen if the case ever did go to trial.
In many instances, deposition testimony allows the attorneys to negotiate a fair settlement so that no trial is necessary.
What Can You Expect if You’re Asked to Testify at a Deposition?
Many cases can be resolved without the need for depositions, but if a deposition does become necessary and you are asked to testify about your injury, a good personal injury attorney will always be there to help you prepare.
Before the deposition you will speak with your attorney so that he or she can walk you through what to expect. Your attorney will help you understand the topics that the deposition will cover and the questions that are likely to be asked by attorneys on both sides of the case.
Your attorney may even role-play as opposing counsel so you will be ready to answer any unexpected questions that might come your way.
When it comes time for the deposition itself, you will be notified in advance of the date and time you are expected to attend.
The deposition may take place in the office of one of the attorneys or it may be conducted remotely using videoconferencing software like Zoom.
There is no need to go to court for a deposition.
Once the deposition begins, the attorneys will ask you questions, and you will give answers under oath.
The Importance of Consistency in Testimony
Your testimony will be transcribed by a stenographer so that the attorneys, and sometimes the court, can refer to it later.
Testifying at a deposition may not seem as important taking the witness stand at trial, but it can often be just as important.
The lawyers and the court will rely on deposition testimony to make important decisions about your case.
And if your case does go to trial, your testimony on the witness stand will need to be consistent with your deposition testimony.
If it is not, the opposing attorney will question you about any discrepancies in front of the jury.
What Can You Expect When Taking the Stand at Trial?
Though it’s not common, sometimes it is necessary to take a case to trial to get the compensation you deserve.
And if that happens, you may be asked to take the witness stand to tell the jury how you were injured and how that injury has affected your life.
Practicing to Take the Stand
Though many people are anxious about the prospect of taking the witness stand, a good personal injury attorney will again be there to assist you every step of the way.
Your attorney will meet with you well in advance of going to court to let you know what to expect.
Much like before a deposition, your attorney help you prepare for the questions that you will be asked at trial. This will include going over the testimony you gave during your deposition in order to refresh your memory and avoid contradictions.
And you will likely practice answering questions that the opposing attorney will put to you while you are on the witness stand.
Your attorney will let you know when the trial will be held and how long it will last. In addition, you will receive a subpoena, which is an official notification from the court of the place, date, and time that you will be taking the witness stand.
At the Trial
When the time comes for trial, you will come to the courthouse and wait to be called to testify.
When you are called, you will be directed to the witness stand where you will stand and give an oath to tell the truth. You will then sit down, make yourself comfortable, and get ready to answer questions from the attorneys.
The first attorney to ask questions will be the one who requested the court to issue a subpoena for your testimony.
This is called direct examination.
Your own attorney is likely to conduct direct examination.
If so, your attorney will guide you through your testimony by asking questions that that you’ve answered before in your deposition and that you’ve discussed with your attorney prior to trial.
Your attorney will work to help you present your story in the most clear and convincing way possible.
Next, the attorney representing the opposing side will have an opportunity to ask you questions.
This is called cross-examination.
During cross-examination, the opposing attorney may attempt to undermine the version of events that you testified to on direct examination. This may involve questioning your credibility and attempting to trip you up.
While this may sound unpleasant, the best response to these tactics is to simply remain calm and tell the truth.
You know your story better than anyone, so there’s no need to get upset or defensive.
In general, you must answer all the questions you are asked by the attorneys when taking the stand in your personal injury case.
But there are a few exceptions.
First, if you don’t know the answer, you should just say so.
Likewise, if you don’t understand the question, you should say that as well.
The only time you may not need to answer a question at all is if one of the attorneys objects.
When attorneys object to a question, it doesn’t work like you may have seen on TV.
There are limited legal reasons that an attorney may object to a witness answering questions. And if the judge does not agree with the reason offered by the attorney, you will have to answer the question anyway.
The main thing to remember if there is an objection is to simply pause, remain calm, and wait for instruction from the attorneys or the judge as to what you should do next.
Contact VanDerGinst Law For Your Personal Injury Case
In sum, most personal injury cases settle without the need to testify at a deposition or trial.
But in the event that you do need to testify to ensure that you receive the compensation for your injury that you deserve, experienced personal injury attorneys like the ones at VanDerGinst Law will be there to help you every step of the way.
We have helped tens of thousands of clients in obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.
We’ve seen and handled everything involving settlements, depositions, and trials, so we know how to provide you with the professional guidance you are looking for through the entire process.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident and suffered an injury, we’d be honored to help you get the compensation you deserve.
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The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.