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More Instructions for Discovery Depositions

Stopping Answers

Another key to a successful deposition is to know when to stop answering. Often the defense lawyer uses the deposition as a fishing expedition to hook anything of use to the defense case. That is why many questions that seem completely irrelevant to the accident are asked. Believe it or not, this is generally permitted by the courts.

Since the other lawyer is attempting to pick your mind, you must not make his or her job easier by responding to each question with a long, drawn out answer. If a question can fairly be answered with a yes or a no, by all means do that and say no more until the next question is asked. Your lawyer may even tap you on the shoulder or use a prearranged signal if your answers are getting too detailed. This signal lets you know to keep your answers brief. If you give the other lawyer enough ammunition, you increase the likelihood that eventually he or she will find something to use against you. That is why brief answers are usually best.


It is vital that you completely understand each question before attempting to give an answer. It is not possible to give a truthful and accurate answer to a misunderstood question. The defense attorney will repeat or rephrase the question if requested to do so.

Speaking Clearly

It is important to speak loud enough so that all in the deposition room can hear the testimony. You should keep your hands away from your mouth. To some attorneys a hand in front of the mouth implies that you have something to hide. Questions cannot be answered with a nod of the head or an uh-uh. You must say yes or no so that the stenographer can record the response.


You should not exaggerate your injuries or losses, but you should not hesitate to explain fully all of the injuries and damages caused by the accident. Watch out especially for questions such as, “Did you suffer any other injuries?” A negative answer at the deposition can limit you at the time of trial. You must think long and hard before committing yourself to such an answer. If you cannot think of any other injuries or complaints, it is fair to tell the other attorney, “That is all I can think of right now.” This keeps your options open in case you have simply forgotten about an important part of your claim. It is easy to forget during the pressure of a deposition, especially if the other attorney is utilizing a combative style of questioning.

Do not try to memorize the accident, injuries, and treatment. Justice requires only that you tell your story to the best of your ability. A memorized recitation of the events appears contrived and manufactured. Some degree of spontaneity adds settlement value to the case.

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