Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA Blog

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Top Five Mistakes Business Owners Make at Depositions

Depositions are a discovery tool used in lawsuits that allow a party to gather evidence about the case. A party testifying at a deposition is under oath, and the entire session is transcribed into an official record by a court reporter. In a lawsuit, depositions can be very useful to learn what evidence the other party has and to force parties to answer key questions before the trial. If you are called to testify at a deposition, be sure to discuss the situation with a South Carolina business litigation lawyer beforehand.

MISTAKE NUMBER ONE: Failing to Prepare for the Deposition

Many business owners do not make time to meet with their South Carolina business attorney before a deposition. The demands of operating a business always take priority over the need to prepare for the deposition. Your attorney provides guidance about how to conduct yourself during the deposition, including the do’s and don’ts of depositions that could prevent you from making a costly mistake that could hurt your case. 

MISTAKE NUMBER TWO: Talking Too Much

Talented attorneys ask open-ended questions for a reason. They want you to continue talking after you provide the answer to the question. You are more likely to “spill” useful or incriminating information the longer you talk. 

Listen carefully to each question and answer “yes” or “no” whenever possible. If you must provide a longer response, answer only the question asked, and then -- stop talking. If the attorney desires more information, she will ask for it.

Do not give in to the temptation to fill the silence. Attorneys often pause between questions as they wait for you to fill in the silence with additional information. 


MISTAKE NUMBER THREE: Don’t Treat the Other Attorney as Your Friend

You may be comfortable dealing with attorneys through your business. Therefore, attorneys do not make you nervous, and you do not automatically assume they are adversarial. The attorney in a deposition is adversarial. His job is to obtain information and evidence to help his client. 
Resist an attorney’s attempt to build a rapport with you during the deposition.  The goal of building a rapport is to make you feel at ease so you will commit Mistake Number Two (talking too much). 

 

MISTAKE NUMBER FOUR: Arguing with the Attorney

You do not want to be his friend, but you also do not want to fight with the questioner. Using techniques to put you on the defensive is another deposition tactic used by some attorneys to push you into committing Mistake Number Two (talking too much).  Are you beginning to see a pattern? If the attorney can keep you talking, he can get information to use against you. 
Do not argue with the attorney or allow the attorney to “push your buttons.” You need to remain calm and composed so that you can focus on the questions being asked and your response. Otherwise, the attorney may push you to commit Mistake Number Five (rushing to answer questions).

MISTAKE NUMBER FIVE: Rushing to Answer Questions


If you become rattled, you might forget to listen carefully to each question before you answer the questions. It is crucial that you listen to the question fully, make sure you understand what is being asked, and pause to think about your answer before providing your answer. If you do not understand the question or you are unclear what information the question is seeking, ask the attorney to clarify or rephrase the question. 

Rushing can lead to answers to questions that have not been asked. Rushing can also lead to providing a partial response to a question, which could hurt your case if you are asked the question at trial and provide a different answer.

Contact a South Carolina Business Attorney if Your Company is Being Sued

If you receive a lawsuit or notice of deposition, it is wise to schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today to discuss your legal rights, obligations, and options for resolving the dispute. Ignoring the matter or attempting to handle the matter without legal counsel could result in a very poor outcome.


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