Discovery is an important aspect of the pre-trial process in civil lawsuits. It’s used to gather information and perspective from plaintiffs and defendants.
Some discovery is handled in writing, such as interrogatories – lists of questions exchanged by both sides. Examination before trial (EBT), also known as a deposition, is when parties to the lawsuit answer questions under oath.
Preparing for Examination Before Trial
Most lawsuits do not go to trial, so a civil lawyer will take time to prepare the plaintiff for questions likely to be asked during an EBT. Some common ways to prepare are to:
- Revisit the accident site
- Have a mock deposition, in which a member of your law firm takes the role of opposing counsel
- Review facts of the case, but don’t over rehearse
What to Expect During Examination Before Trial
Legal TV shows often have scenes where the plaintiff, defendant or witness is being deposed or interviewed under oath. What you’ll experience in a deposition room might be similar to what you’ve seen on television – but without the dramatic or comedic dialog. You’ll take an oath to tell the truth. A court reporter will record every word of testimony, and often, the deposition will be videotaped. Your lawyer will be at the EBT with you, as will the defense attorney and the defendant. Witnesses can also be called to give a deposition.
It’s natural to feel nervous at a deposition, but these tips, along with your lawyer’s guidance, will help you get through it:
- Arrive early to the deposition location – about 15 minutes or more if recommended by your attorney
- Listen carefully to a question. If you don’t understand it, ask for clarification.
- It’s OK to pause before answering a question. It’s better to take a moment and think about how you want to phrase your response than blurt out the first words that come to your mind.
- Answer only what you are asked. Don’t volunteer additional information.
- Be polite when you respond – it’s not the time to argue or show anger.
- Lawyers from both sides might engage in conversations and questions with each other. Don’t become involved in these discussions. Let your lawyer do his or her job.
What Happens Next?
After a deposition is taken, it is transcribed, with both sides receiving the documents. You’ll have an opportunity to review the deposition transcription with your lawyer for accuracy or omissions. If a settlement is not reached, deposition testimony can be compared to testimony given in the courtroom. If there are differences between deposition testimony and court testimony, a witness’s credibility could be questioned.
An Experienced Team
The EBT, or deposition, process can be crucial to receiving the settlement you deserve or a favorable jury verdict. The personal injury attorneys at Sayegh & Sayegh PC are skilled in preparing you for deposition and questioning the other side. Call (914) 222-8161 or contact us online for a consultation with a member of our experienced team.