One of the most underused strategies in the personal injury practice is the videotaped deposition. As you know, gestures, tone, and idiosyncrasies do not translate on a written deposition transcript. These are many times far more powerful than spoken words, and it’s time you begin videotaping your deposition.
Your Notice of Deposition
Before you send out the Notice of Deposition, check the rules in your jurisdiction regarding the taking of video depositions. Many states have a requirement that a particular oath or procedure must be taken for the video deposition to be valid. Other jurisdictions allow for you to merely video it yourself. You should take on any objections to the video recording before the date of the deposition, and the way to avoid disputes on the day of the deposition is to clearly outline your intentions in the notice.
Prevents them from being coached between the deposition and trial
The problem with not videotaping a deposition is that any bad answers, bad gestures, negative tones, condescension, etc, can be coached out of the Defendant after his or her lawyer sees how awful they performed in an attempt to prepare them to look better in front of the jury. If you fail to videotape the Defendant’s deposition, you just failed to capture that valuable evidence to put in front of the jury.
Use clips in your opening statement
You have to remember that as Little Rock personal injury lawyers, jurors are automatically skeptical of us. People are skeptical of lawyers from the years of jokes, stella awards, chain emails, etc. Much of it is deserved, but you are keenly aware that building credibility in a short trial can be difficult, if not impossible. In order to avoid concerns about credibility, use part of your opening statement not telling the jury what the Defendant said at deposition – show them. Play short clips from the deposition in your opening statement. Be careful not to take clips out of context or try to trick the jury in any way – that will backfire. But strategically showing bombshell clips in opening statement will get you off on the right foot with the jury.
Even if you cannot use them in your opening statement or even at trial because of local rule or statute, use it at mediation. Send clips to the adjuster. These clips can help you settle the case.
For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has been involved in personal injury claims to juries for years.
Thanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into videotaped depositions in personal injury cases.