Tips for Plaintiff Witnesses in a Deposition

If you’re a witness asked to testify in a deposition, your lawyer should be able to aptly prepare you for a successful trial. As long as you are wholly truthful, you shouldn’t have to run into many issues during the trial. There are multiple meanings to being “wholly truthful,” as any court reporters Los Angeles can tell you, which will be covered here.

The first rule to follow in being a witness during a deposition with a court reporter is to, of course, tell the truth. This obviously means not lying, even if you believe it’s a relatively harmless lie. If you’re caught in even one lie, the whole case could swing unfavorably.

As a witness, you should speak with your lawyer ahead of time. Talk about any “unfavorable testimony” that the opposing lawyer will try to use to make you seem illegitimate as a witness. All cases will have this kind of testimony, such as personal issues or previously claimed damages, as not everyone is perfect. Getting all these issues out of the way with your lawyer ahead of time will smooth out what could otherwise be a rough deposition.

Whatever you do, don’t guess at any answers. If you’re unsure of something but try to answer something in the affirmative, this means you cannot be wholly truthful. Simply say you are unsure. Don’t make assumptions a part of your deposition. If the truth is something such as “I don’t know,” say so. State that you’re not 100% sure on something.

Be sure that you understand the question. A lawyer could very well ask you a question that is vague or just doesn’t make any sense. Ask the lawyer to clarify or repeat the question. A California court reporter can also repeat the question and other testimony back to you after they’ve recorded it.

Avoid using absolute terms like “always” or “never.” These words can easily pigeonhole you, especially if the opposing lawyer can find exceptions to the rule in your testimony; this can make you look less than forthcoming. Be sure to also leave yourself some room in your answers, such as “that’s all I remember at this time,” or “that’s all that happened as far as I can recall.” This way, a lawyer can’t trip you up by trying to make you say absolute statements.

Be sure, also, to strictly answer the question and be careful not to volunteer any extra information. You never know what the opposing lawyer could use against you. If you can answer any question in strictly yes, no, or I don’t know terms, then do so. Some questions may require some elaboration, so one or two sentences are acceptable.