At the moment’s publish is the third in a sequence of posts by buddy of the Academy, Crystal M. Uebelher, J.D., CPCU. Crystal is an insurance coverage skilled and a lawyer. Crystal loves instructing non-lawyers concerning the regulation and attorneys about insurance coverage.
Final week we mentioned why you may have the unlucky distinction of being a witness in litigation towards your organization. Now that you recognize why you’re of curiosity to the opposing lawyer; you possibly can put together for the dreaded occasion. You is likely to be considering that if you’re simply sharing your private recollection or data little preparation is required. Sadly, you’re flawed. To achieve success, you need to know the information associated to your position within the case higher than the opposing lawyer and have a plan for answering the questions prone to be requested. Listed here are the following questions to think about in your journey to deposition success.
Query 3: What ought to I assessment?
On a theoretical degree, litigation is about discovering the reality. On a sensible degree, the principles of proof prohibit the move of data between the events. In each case, there are paperwork that appear associated to the litigation, however should not disclosed because of the guidelines of proof. Earlier than you dive in and start reviewing each inner doc concerning the plaintiff or declare, ask your lawyer what you need to assessment. There could also be a method behind which paperwork your lawyer needs you to assessment upfront of your deposition. Observe your lawyer’s directions and keep away from the temptation to take a look at different paperwork.
You may additionally see paperwork listed in your Discover of Deposition. Take into account this the opposing lawyer’s want listing. A few of the paperwork requested could not even exist. Once more, earlier than on the lookout for these paperwork, ask your lawyer whether or not you need to monitor them down. You might discover that your lawyer has a sound objection to producing the paperwork. Bear in mind that some courts require manufacturing of every little thing you assessment in preparation in your deposition. In case you assessment a doc your lawyer didn’t intend to supply, you’ll have undermined the litigation technique.
Query 4: What are the “unhealthy information”?
In lots of circumstances, there are information which can be adversarial to your organization’s protection. For instance, as a declare consultant maybe you made an error in judgment and put an opinionated remark in your notes which suggests you have been trying to deny the declare. This can be very removed from the reality, however the existence of the remark is a “unhealthy truth”. It is very important perceive what your lawyer sees because the unhealthy information within the case. The opposing lawyer will definitely zone-in on these unhealthy information with the aim of constructing them into one thing greater than they are surely. You have to develop a plan along with your lawyer for answering questions on these unhealthy information.
The unhealthy information could not even be a part of your private involvement within the case. It might be one thing a colleague mentioned or did. It’s nonetheless necessary to know these points. A talented lawyer will ask you questions aimed toward making a disconnect between your testimony and the actions of your colleague. Within the instance above, you might be requested whether or not it’s acceptable to place your private opinions in declare notes. In case you say an unequivocal “no” you may have inadvertently thrown your colleague below the proverbial bus and doubtlessly broken the case in your firm. By working along with your lawyer upfront, you possibly can anticipate this query and talk about an acceptable response.
Query 5: Who’re my allies?
Continuously, litigation entails a couple of plaintiff and one defendant. In an ideal world the defendants work collectively to defeat the plaintiff’s claims. Sadly, that’s not at all times doable. It’s best to know if the opposite defendants are allies or enemies. The opposing lawyer could ask you questions aimed toward acquiring testimony from you to break the opposite defendant. If the opposite defendant is your ally, you could put together along with your lawyer for these kinds of questions.
As you possibly can see, being a truth witness appears easy on its floor however the opposing lawyer could also be setting many traps. In case you present up at your deposition with out considerate preparation you miss your alternative to help the corporate’s protection and maybe harm it as a substitute. In our subsequent installment of this weblog sequence, we are going to swap focus to debate preparation for serving as the company consultant moderately than a truth witness.
Crystal Uebelher, J.D., CPCU is an insurance coverage lawyer who’s enthusiastic about elevating the experience of attorneys and insurance coverage professionals on the ever-changing points in our business. Crystal is the proprietor of Readability Training and Consulting, LLC, the place she creates significant instructional experiences for insurance coverage brokers, attorneys and claims professionals. Crystal additionally works within the Claims Division at a mutual insurance coverage service.
Crystal earner her juris doctorate in 2007 from the College of Wisconsin Legislation College (magna cum laude, Order of the Coif). She earned her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation in 2017.
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