Video depositions are nothing new, but in recent years the technology has moved a step further. Now depositions, mediation, and even whole trials are conducted using web conferencing software—and clients who are unfamiliar with the process can inadvertently make big mistakes in their injury cases.
If you are giving a deposition using Zoom, it’s important to realize that a recording and a transcription of the deposition could be shown at trial. With a little preparation, you can give your best testimony even when sitting in your own home.
How to Prepare for an Injury Deposition Over Zoom
If you have never used Zoom, we recommend watching a few training videos to understand the basics of the platform. You will need a computer, an internet connection, and possibly an external microphone or headset. Some attorneys prefer to use software programs to send exhibits and documents electronically, while others send hard copies to all participants. We will go over the exhibit process with you prior to the date of the deposition.
Once your deposition is scheduled, it is a good idea to:
- Check your tech. Sit in front of your computer and try opening a webpage or playing a video. If either one takes more than a few seconds to load, your wireless connection may not be able to handle the demands of video software. If possible, you should connect your computer to your router by an ethernet cable and avoid WiFi problems altogether. If you are using a laptop or tablet, move from room to room until you find a location with a strong internet connection.
- Access your audio. Many video platforms offer the option to call in to your meeting through a phone or connect via your computer audio. In most cases, your phone will offer the best possible audio, avoiding problems with distortion or “dropping” occasional words over WiFi. If you must use your computer or tablet’s audio system, make sure to turn off all of your call and app notifications until the deposition is over. If you are using an external microphone, make sure it is switched on and in a position that allows everyone to hear you clearly.
- Do a trial run. You should receive a link to dial in to the Zoom call prior to the deposition. Test the link a day or two before, just in case you need any software installations or updates. You can also test your camera and microphone when dialing in early to be sure they are compatible with your computer. Practice switching between camera views and using the chat feature, and learn how to mute and unmute yourself. The best camera view should show the questioning attorney, the court reporter, and your personal injury trial attorney at the same time.
- Clear your background. Notify your family members of the date and time of the deposition, so they know you are not to be disturbed. Any pets should be kept in a different room to minimize background noise. Artwork, books, clocks, or photos on the wall behind you can be distracting, so try to center your chair in front of a neutral background. Don’t use a virtual background; it can cause your image and any document held up to the camera to pixelate or disappear.
- Look your best. Depositions are formal legal proceedings regardless of where they are taken, and you need to dress appropriately for the benefit of your case. A good rule of thumb is to dress as you would for a job interview.
- Speak slowly and clearly. The court reporter can’t make an accurate record if everyone is speaking at once. Avoid talking over others, and speak as calmly and clearly as possible.
- Wait to respond. There may be a lag in video and audio, so it’s a good idea to leave several seconds between the asking of a question and your response. This gives your attorney time to object to a question before you begin to answer. If needed, you can have the host set up a private chat room so you and your attorney can confer during breaks.
If you suffered a serious injury, the legal team at GriffithLaw is waiting to fight on your behalf. Simply fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (615) 807-7900 to learn more.