(219)736-9700 info@davidholublaw.com

Honey or Vinegar

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s topic is prompted by a call from a client who wanted to attend the deposition of the driver who rear-ended her. While clients typically do not attend the deposition of the party being sued, it is of course perfectly okay to do so.

In such situations, we always explain that we rarely are mean or confrontational when we question the defendant under oath.

There is an old saying that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Defense witnesses either come to their depositions planning to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” or they come looking  for a fight.

But, we’ve found that it will rarely help your case if we, as your attorneys, behave in a nasty and unpleasant fashion to the opposing party or opposing counsel.

Many attorneys believe, wrongly, that being a nice person can ruin a legal career. Nothing is further from the truth.

Other than lawyers, everyone tends to engage in free-flowing conversations, not rapid-fire questions and answers.

Fighting with a witness breaks the conversational flow that will help relax the witness and lead to information yielding answer.

Jousting contests with the witness may make for good TV, but in practice, it does not help.

Most attorneys strive to have well-thought-out, and clear deposition questions. Such questions will likely yield answers that will provide the most help to a client at trial.

That said, there may be occasions where it is absolutely necessary to fight with the witness. Or, argue with opposing counsel.

During a deposition, a record is being made. If a witness is not cooperating, that lack of cooperation needs to be established, so a court can see the lack of cooperation.

But even when if we must firmly establish that we are entitled to answers, it still does not help to be mean, or swear, or shout.

Also, sometimes less is more. If during the deposition, the witness admits key facts, or acknowledges key documents, there is no need to spend an excessive amount of time with the witness.

For example, if the witness admits to running a red-light, and admits to my client having had the right of way, there is little need to question the witness about where they went to school, or ask them about the names and ages of all of their children.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”