February 13, 2015 • Personal Injury
Can You Talk to Your Attorney during the Deposition
You have filed a personal injury lawsuit, you are now being questioned at the deposition, which is a question and answer session, held under oath, much before the trial starts. At this session, you will be giving sworn testimony in an attorney’s office.
The defense attorney will be asking you questions, and your lawyer will be present. You have every right to speak to your attorney, except when you are asked a question. You can talk to your attorney before questions are asked, and you can talk to your attorney after you have answered a question. You can also take a break and talk to your attorney about anything you wish; however, you
cannot do this in the middle of a question asked by the defense lawyer.
When You cannot Consult Your Attorney
It might happen that the defense has asked you a question, and now you want to ask your own attorney something about that question and the answer you are about to give. Can you turn to your attorney and request a break to ask questions? The answer is that in the state of New York, you cannot ask anything to your lawyer, once the defense has asked you a question.
You could decline answering the question, ask the lawyer for clarifications about the things you have not understood about the question, but you cannot speak to your lawyer, until you have answered or declined answering the question.
At other times, you can ask for a break and talk to your attorney. After talking to your attorney if you find that there is something about the question or about the answer, you have given, you need to clarify or correct, you can do that when you come back in and the deposition session is resumed. However, once the question has been asked by the opposing lawyer, you must answer the question or you must say that you do not wish to answer the question, before you turn and ask a question your attorney.
Such a situation comes up during deposition in almost every accident case, medical malpractice case, or wrongful death case. The client will be asked a question by the defense and he may not be sure what to answer or is unclear about the question, and would want to consult with his attorney. However, this is not possible once the question has been asked.
You can consult your attorney any time before a question is asked or after you have replied to a question, put to you by the defense attorney.
Be Honest and Maintain Your Credibility
Before a deposition, your lawyer will tell you about what goes on in such a session, and how you are supposed to conduct yourself and the way you need to answer the various questions put forth by the defense. However, even with such training, there might be instances where you might not be sure whether you should be answering the question, whether you should answer it differently, or you need more clarification about the question. In any case, you cannot consult with your lawyer until you have given some sort of reply to the question.