What questions should I expect to be asked at a deposition and how should I answer them?
Usually the parties or their attorneys have a chance to ask any questions related to the case that they want. If you have a lawyer, you should discuss what to expect at depositions with your lawyer prior to depositions. If you do not have a lawyer, you may want to practice explaining what happened to a trusted friend or family member so you get comfortable talking about it out loud.
You will be under oath at depositions, as will the other people being deposed, so you have to answer truthfully or you could face perjury accusations. Do not try to make up answers. If you cannot remember something, it is better to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” than to give an answer that you are not sure about.
When the other party or his/her attorney is asking you questions, you will usually want to answer the questions with as little information as possible for a few reasons:
- A deposition is not in front of a judge or jury and so there is no reason to try to add extra details that you may otherwise add if you are trying to impress a judge or jury.
- One point of depositions is to lock in the testimony of the parties and witnesses so that the parties know where they stand going into trial and can make decisions about settlement or trial strategy. You want to help the opposing party as little as possible in this regard.
- Either side can use deposition testimony to discredit witnesses at trial. The more details that you testify to at a deposition, the greater the chance that you might describe those details differently at trial.
In sum, when answering deposition questions, it is very important to be honest, to not give answers that you aren’t sure about, and to make sure that you are only answering the question without providing extra unnecessary detail. We have a Preparing for Court video series on our Videos page that has examples of both direct and cross-examinations that might help you prepare for a deposition.