Insurance company lawyers take depositions in cases like yours every other day. I sit through about 3-4 a week and listen to the same old drivel and pointed questions all day long. So, what are some of the major differences between a great deposition and a terrible deposition that can ruin the chances of settling your case?
Here is what you need to know, and WHY you need to know it.
During your car wreck deposition, the insurance lawyers, more than anything, are evaluating you. They want to see what type of personality you have and gather an opinion as to whether or not a jury would find you appealing if your case went all the way to trial. If they like you, they will urge the insurance company to pay you more money. If not, they will take a much harder line approach and not offer you a fair value to settle your case.
So what are the two biggest mistakes you can make overall?
I don’t have to worry about this one much with any of my clients. I have already screened you when I first met with you face to face, and that is one of the reasons I meet personally with everyone of my clients. And not that I am trying to see if they are lying about anything, but just to see and determine if they are worthy. I always want to feel good about the people that I work so hard for, and I want to feel confident that a jury will find you worthy if we are forced to go to trial. Sometimes people lie because they are embarrassed about a prior criminal conviction, or they don’t tell the truth about a prior injury or car wreck. Sometimes they legitimately forgot about the incident. ALWAYS tell the truth. I tell my kids to tell the truth, especially when it hurts to do so, because that is when it is most important. If you tell the truth, most of the time I can keep out a bad or irrelevant fact. Why does it matter in your case now that you got arrested for DUI way back when you were 18 years old? If that has been 20 years ago and you have been a model citizen, then our not-so-perfect past is not really relevant to your injuries in this crash. Same thing goes for the defendant. Justice is a 2 way street.
This is the one that I worry about the most. How do people tend to exaggerate? There are several ways you need to be on the lookout for. Pain scales are one example. Saying your pain is an “11” when you have a common type of injury, such as a whiplash injury, is going to be viewed as exaggerating. 10/10 pain is reserved for breaking your leg and it is twisted sideways and the bone is sticking out. I would rather you “under” exaggerate than over exaggerate.
Another way people exaggerate is fairly innocent, and is just a common way we talk in daily conversation. Many times we will say we “can’t” do something when we simply mean that it causes us difficulty when we actually do that activity. For example, I had an elderly man with a major low back injury following a car crash. He and his wife used to walk 3 miles every day before the crash. After the wreck, he stated he “can’t go walking with my wife anymore.” Later in his deposition, his doctor said he can walk but he simply needs to use his pain as a restraint and not over do it. The insurance company lawyers tried to use this testimony against him. The man explained that what he meant to say was that of course I can walk, I just do it with pain, and I don’t go 3 miles anymore because if I do, I will pay for it the next day.
A simple rule on giving depositions I always share with my clients is to never go to extremes. Be aware of your words you use that the insurance lawyer may take out of context and use it literally. Stay away from use of the words can’t, never, always, every time unless you are absolutely sure those words are true. Think about this.
There are many other rules that you need to consider when taking a deposition. For a better list of them, check out my website and my deposition prep video. It is not high tech, and I just did it on the fly one day when we had finished a deposition and just winged it. It is the same thing I tell all of my clients before their depositions and it is about 15 minutes long. I would just say the same thing over and over every day and I thought it would be a good way to let my clients see it in the comfort of their own home before they came to my office before a video and were all nervous. I have had tremendous positive feedback from every single one of my clients, and I thought I would share it with you.
If you have any questions about your case, you should not hesitate to give me and my excellent staff a call. We are more than happy to talk to you and help every way we can.