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When a contract dispute, personal injury matter, or anything else that might require legal representation, it’s important to think before seeking counsel. Representing yourself is referred to as “Pro Se” representation under legal (Latin) terminology and is an option to consider. In almost any matter, your are allowed to represent yourself. The license requirement for a Lawyer to represent another in legal matters, so a lawyer is almost never required. There are a number of things to consider about the situation before seeking to retain counsel, and those considerations may lead to Pro Se representation.


        First thing to understand is that most lawyers will recommend retaining a lawyer regardless of the type of case.  Part of the reason is with the conservative nature of most lawyers in offering advice that will not come back on them.  If a lawyer recommends acting Pro Se and the case goes “bad”, that could come back on the lawyer.  The other reason is probably obvious, and that being the reality that lawyers generally seek to represent clients.  It is expected you will have a better outcome retaining counsel, as lawyers provide expertise in legal matters.  The problem is in the full range of considerations for the client, including the money potentially spent on litigation versus the money that comes out of the litigation.


       A reason to retain counsel can be that the case will be “paid” on “contingency fee”.  Particularly in a personal injury case, the Plaintiff bringing the case is seeking money from the other side to compensate for damages caused to the Plaintiff.  In that kind of case, the lawyer will usually be paid a third of the money that he is able to obtain for the client, whether by settlement or by verdict of the court or jury.  In this kind of case, it makes sense to retain counsel, particularly if the case if complex and involves serious questions of liability the lawyer must prove.  In some cases, for example a rear end collision, liability is not reasonably in question.  Then the lawyer helps with determining damages. If the injuries are severe, the damages will be higher.  The lawyer’s job is to seek the highest potential compensation possible, but making all possible insurance claims.


       When determining the need for a lawyer in a non-contingency matter, where you must pay the lawyer an hourly fee, financial considerations become more important. If you are in a contract dispute, and someone is suing for a relatively low amount of money, it might not make financial sense to pay a lawyer an amount exceeding what is being claimed in damages (what you owe the other side).  For example, if you are being sued for $1000 and you will have to pay the lawyer $1400 for representation, you will lose money even if the defense is successful.  In most defense cases, insurance companies provide and pay for attorneys to defend cases.  That is where insurance applies.  In those times insurance doesn’t apply it’s important to think about the return on investment.


        In bringing certain suits,  particularly disputes involving relatively small amounts, it can be best to act Pro Se.  For example, in contract or property disputes $7500 or less it may be wise o bring a suit Pro Se in Magistrate Court.  The limit to what Magistrate Court can adjudicate is $7500 in South Carolina, and these court cases don’t involve the usual expenses of discovery like in Circuit Court.  If you retain counsel, you will have to pay $2500 as a contingency to bring the matter, and that might be cost prohibitive.  Then the decision comes down to factors like whether or not the other side has an attorney (likely best to get an attorney in that event), or the complexity of the case.  Other actions in Magistrate Court, like evictions, can be done Pro Se, though it all depends on the various factors involved including the complexity of the case.


       Consideration:  Even if acting Pro Se, attorneys can still help with things like document production.  For example, for a small flat fee an attorney can draft an Answer to a Complaint to be signed and filed by the Pro Se litigant.  Also, attorneys can be brought in at any point in the litigation.


       Bottom line: If money is not an issue, it is almost always best to retain counsel regardless of the type of case.  As money is normally one of the issues to consider, it’s important to consider going Pro Se.


                 Clients ask me when they should start estate planning and I always answer that they cannot start too soon. Due to my many years in the military and various deployments to hostile areas, I was taught to always have my plans together in case something happened.  Part of the advice was for my family, but part was for my own peace of mind and the lack of distraction doing a dangerous job.  Having spent many years now handling estates, it never ceases to surprise me to learn of the number of people (much older than me when I deployed) who do not have some kind of planning for the event of their death or incapacity.  Though you may think your net worth, including property, to be modest, there are simple estate plans to care for your family in the event something happens.  This will ensure those loved ones left behind are about to process your estate.  Let me explain.


              Three documents every adult should have executed are a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and Health Care Power of Attorney.  The Will can be simple, and solely name the personal representative (PR) who will administer the estate and the beneficiary or beneficiaries of the estate.  It doesn’t need to get specific, and I usually advise clients to consider less specificity.  The more specific, the more chance the Will becomes outdated in a short time.  Leaving it all to a spouse, or all to children in equal shares is quite acceptable.  You should consider identifying a Memorandum that will be left separately from the will to designate specific sentimental type pieces of property and can be done at a much later point than the Will.  The Will should probably have a provision allowing the PR to sell real property without receiving an order of the Court.  Otherwise, a two-page will can work fine for many people and save conflict and confusion for those left behind. 


             Associated with the Will, a Health Care Power of attorney gives peace of mind and can help the family.  This allows another to make end of life decisions in the event you cannot communicate and (to a reasonable degree of medical certainty) will not improve and will eventually succumb.  The person given this authority can make the decision to pull a respirator before the cost eats up all the estate that would go to the family.  It also allows for ending hydration/nutrition (forced feeding) in the same situation. Additionally, executing a Durable Power of Attorney will allow another to handle financial matters even when you are incapacitated and potentially facing end of life.


           Along with this planning is the consideration of ensuring as many non-probate transfers of the estate as are possible.  Ensure that bank accounts have “transfer (payment) on death” provisions.  Ensure that other forms of wealth allow for beneficiaries in the event of death.  If possible, consider transferring real estate during life, but keeping a life estate for yourself.  All this will help keep the probated estate minimal, avoiding potential probate taxes and the headaches that can go with probate.


           Lastly, it is important to work in to estate planning substantial wealth accumulation.  For example, if one has been involved in a vehicle wreck involving a substantial personal injury settlement or verdict, it is important to plan for the transfer at death in a way that makes the most sense for loved ones.  This can also come with other such substantial accumulations.  Plan for what happens if you are no longer around, and your loved ones will someday understand that bit of unselfishness for others.


    Though cases do go to trial, most cases are settled between parties prior to trial.  After someone is injured due to the negligence of another, that starts a process toward an eventual resolution between the parties.  In most cases, the injured party will retain a lawyer who will put together the evidence of wrongdoing and evidence of damages, and send a demand for settlement to the other side.  Parties will then go back and forth over settlement numbers to attempt to reach a settlement. Mediation could come at this point, as a “pre-suit” mediation, but normally it happens after filing a lawsuit. This is the formal median to prepare to win.


        The Plaintiff, through his attorney, will normally file a lawsuit against the Defendant (and usually it’s through the Defendant’s insurance company) if the Defendant and/or his insurance company does not offer enough to satisfy what the Plaintiff perceives as his damages. The Plaintiff will file a Complaint, which will be served on the Defendant.  The Defendant will normally give it to his insurance company, and the company will assign an attorney to defend and answer the complaint.  After answering the complaint, parties will engage in discovery of information from each other, and this will include depositions of the parties and witnesses.  At any point along the way, either party could reach out with an offer to settle, but normally the suit does not settle until after discovery when the parties know all the evidence.


        Mediation is mandatory in most circuit courts in South Carolina prior to trial of the case, so most will engage in mediation.  The mediator is paid by both the parties, and is normally an attorney or former judge experienced in the type of case.  The parties will normally provide a mediation packet to the mediator prior to mediation, and will usually come to mediation with their first offers to settle.  What’s critically important is for parties and attorneys to plan the strategy of mediation.  They must go in with the “walkaway” amount that is the limit to what they will accept from the other side.  Most know from human nature if a side is desperate to settle, and willing to go as far as can be pushed.  Another important part of planning is identifying all potential quid pro quos (this for that) between parties. Usually, there are other exchanges of value beyond the strict dollar amount to settle.  Sometimes, it may be something as simple as an apology.  It may be a confidentiality agreement if parties settle.  Each case is different, but the reason for identifying potential exchanges is that it helps alleviate coming to an impasse with just the dollar figure of settlement.


       It’s important to “keep position” in a mediation.  The first offer should be to the high end of what is desired.  In almost all mediations, the starting offers are just that: A start.  A high-end position allows room before coming to the walkaway number.  It’s important to have the justification for demands, through good knowledge of both liability and damages.  Arguments are made between parties to convince them of what would likely happen at trial.  Most of the discussion will be about the legal and financial aspects of the case.  However, arguments can be made about other reasons for settlement, like the history of jury verdicts in the venue and other such considerations. During the mediation, it’s important to be patient and also flexible about reading the other side.  It’s important to understand the actual decision maker, which may not be the Defendant or attorney, but an insurance agent.  Lastly, it’s important that in reaching settlement the specific terms are spelled out at the mediation, and the mediator has all necessary parties sign a settlement which he will file with the court. 


       You can win at Mediation, but it just takes planning, preparation, and good execution.

Call the Bill Connor Law Firm TODAY!




          When you have been hurt due to the negligence of another, whether in a car wreck or slip and fall, it’s important to consider the potential that the case may settle at any point before a jury verdict.  Normally, the first step after the injury will be to gather the evidence of the other side’s liability the accident, usually some kind of report, video or eyewitness statement. Along with the evidence of liability, evidence of the damages shown by medical reports/bills, lost wages, etc. are necessary.  


           Once your attorney has the necessary evidence, he will normally then send it to the other side, along with a demand to settle. In other words, he will offer to settle the case and have the injured person sign a release of the liable party in exchange for a sum of money.  Since most liable parties are insured, the attorney normally seeks satisfaction of damages from the liable party’s insurance company, and the demand will be capped at the limits of the insurance. For example, if the liable party only has minimum SC state vehicle insurance limits of $25,000.00, that’s the amount the attorney will likely demand if the medical bills are beyond five thousand.


         Parties will go back and forth after the initial demand, as the insurance company will likely “lowball” with a counter to the demand much lower than the demand.  Then the lawyer may drop his demand to a lesser amount, and the counter may come up. If parties reach agreement, the case is settled “pre-suit” or before filing.  The positive aspect of settling pre-suit is that at that point the injured party will likely have almost no “costs” involved, that would come out of his part of the settlement (note:  the attorney will normally perform work on contingency, in which the attorney receives 1/3 of the settlement or jury verdict and the injured party receives 2/3 but minus any costs of the litigation and any medical liens to his insurance company).


         An example of a pre-suit settlement:  The injured party incurs $6,000 in medical bills.  The other side has a $25,000.00 policy, of which the demand is the full policy.  The parties go back and forth and finally settle on $18,000.00 paid by the liable party insurance company in exchange for a release of their insured by the injured party.  Because this was pre-suit and involved no costs, the injured party receives their full $12,000.00 with the contingency ($6,000.00 for the attorney). The medical insurance company may have a small lien (potentially $1,000.00) which would come out of the injured party amount, but the rest is with then injured party.


        If the parties are not able to settle pre-suit, the injured party begins to incur costs that will come out of his portion after the attorney contingency.  Filing a law suit is normally costs around $150, and all Defendants must be served at roughly $100 each.  During discovery, the injured party would incur the costs of depositions of around $400-500 per deposition.  Experts might be needed, and their fees of thousands of dollars would also factor.  If the case settles during litigation, the injured party might have settled at a higher amount, but then must pay the costs I described.  So “if” the parties settled for $21,000,00, meaning $14,000.00 for the injured party, costs may be beyond $2000.  In that event, the injured party may “take home” less than if settlement was pre-suit. If the case goes to trial, the injured party might obtain a jury verdict of $24,000.00, but the costs might be $4000. In that case, the injured party would be at $14,000.00 (minus any lien), which is $2000 more than if he settled pre-suit.


       The insurance limits will vary, and every situation is different. However, the above factors must be considered in regards to settlement.

One of the tougher challenges in any lawsuit is handling the discovery involved.  I have previously written about depositions, which are a distinct part of discovery.  Depositions, which involve asking parties and witnesses questions under oath with answers being recorded, actually follow the written discovery.  This written discovery is the exchange of questions and answers and requests for production of tangible things (primarily documents) and the production.  It is a time when the parties must be involved in assisting lawyers with answers to questions and production. This is in any kind of case: Personal Injury car accident cases, family court cases, contract disputes, etc  Due to the substantial involvement of parties in Discovery, it’s important to understand the dynamics.


       The first part of written discovery may (but not always) involve “requests to admit” (RTA) questions of the opposing party.  Important to know about RTA is that they must be answered and served back to the other party (or attorney if represented) within 30 days. If not, and similar to defaulting in not answering a complaint in 30 days, the questions are deemed admitted before the Court. They must be answered in 30 days or the effect will be catastrophic for the case.  In answering the first mandate is to be truthful.  At the same time, the party is not required to go beyond the question asked, but can caveat the answer to leave wiggle room.  This is good to send to the other side as it pins them down on certain issues throughout the litigation.


        The “Interrogatories” are questions parties send to each other, in which the other side must answer.  The SC Rules of Civil Procedure offer “standard” interrogatories, which include witnesses, including contact and a summary of testimony to be offered and expert witnesses and associated reports.  Important to note is that if witnesses and/or experts are not named during discovery, they will likely be barred from testifying at trial. Parties are limited in the number of questions they ask, but the questions only have to be likely to lead to relevant information, and therefore can cover a great deal.  Answers can be supplemented if more information becomes available, and parties can ask further questions as more information becomes available.


        The “Requests to Produce” (RTP) can be quite labor intensive and frustrating depending upon the case and request.  In a manufacturing defects case, it might involve literally millions of pages of documents.  Most cases aren’t that onerous with production, but you can get they point of the tedious nature of finding and reviewing substantial numbers of documents to produce to the other side.  For both Interrogatories and RTP, the party receiving has 30 days to answer, or be hauled in to court on a motion for the Court to Compel discovery from the side who has not produced it.


       Sometimes, parties will withhold information/production due to objections about what was asked or requested.  For example, parties cannot request discovery the includes attorney-client privilege or work-product privilege.  There are other objections, and these usually go before a judge to make a ruling of whether or party must answer. 


       It’s important for the client to be intimately involved in the process of discovery, and ensuring his attorney is fulfilling discovery requests properly and diligently. What transpires during discovery sets up the case to win!




         In South Carolina, a problem can arise in the event of loved ones passing away without their estates being probated for over ten years.  Up until the ten year point, the courts will allow the regular probating of wills or intestacy probate.  After ten years, the only process available to ensure a proper chain of title is with the process of designation of heirs. It doesn’t matter if the person had a will or not, and this process is distinct from the normal probate process.  It can be extremely difficult, particularly if the time goes well beyond the ten years.  It’s best to consider hiring counsel for this process, and this should be done if the estate involved real estate titled in the deceased person’s name.


        The process involves multiple steps, and some similar to the regular probate.  The person wishing the petition the court to determine heirs must file the Summons, Petition for Determination of Heirs, filing fee, and, if not already filed, a death certificate all with the Probate Court. The Petition should allege all who the heirs were at time of death by alleged facts, which probate law was in effect at time of the loved one’s death (Note that a copy of statute in effect at the time should be attached). The petition should also include allegations as to why probate administration was not done at the time, but being done now. ·


       After the filing of the above documents, the petitioner must then serve pleadings on all interested parties and file proof of service (note: interested parties would include all potential heirs by the law at the time of death). · Respondents/Defendants have 30 days after being served to file their response/answer back to the petitioner. · After the sooner of 30 days having passed, or when the Answers have been filed, a hearing will be set by the court (upon request) 120 days from the initial filing date. Note: If all parties are in agreement to set the hearing earlier, the hearing can be set, keeping in mind that a 20-day notice of the hearing is required. Also note that the hearing cannot be waived even upon agreement.


    At the said hearing, the petitioner must present testimony from a witness who testifies he knew the decedent most of his life and can testify to there being no other heirs.  This is normally more of an issue for male decedents who might have had biological children outside the known family.  Following the hearing and the Probate Judge’s determination of heirs, the petitioner or his attorney will prepare an Order for the Probate Judge to sign. Note: If you don’t hire an attorney it is imperative to to record the Order at the Register of Deeds Office if real property was involved.  This requires necessary information about the real property, such as property description, derivation, complete.


      In the end, the determination of heirs ensures that titling of property, particularly real property is not tied up indefinitely, hurting everyone in the decedent’s family.  It allows for property to remain with the family or sold with good title. 



        One of the toughest decisions is whether to bring a guardianship and/or conservatorship action over another family member or close friend.  This only comes up when the person needing a guardianship or conservatorship can no longer take care of himself. He is in the category of a “protected person”. In the case of a guardianship, the protected person is no longer able to take care of himself and requires a competent person to make health care and living decisions.  In the case of a conservatorship, the protected person cannot handle his finances and requires a competent person to handle the finances and make those decisions.  Normally, both actions (Conservatorships and Guardianships) are brought together, as the protected person cannot handle either of those issues. Additionally, normally the person petitioning the court will petition to become both guardian and conservator. A number of things to consider before filing this action.


      First, the petition for Guardianship/Conservatorship is made with the probate court of the county the protected person resides.  Second, it is similar to bringing other suits in probate court. In the case of a Guardianship/Conservatorship, the party seeking the conservatorship will be the Petitioner and the protected person is the Respondent.  In South Carolina, a requirement for successfully bringing the action is to have a medical evaluation of the protected person, and the physician’s determination that the Guardianship or Conservatorship is necessary due to the condition of the protected person. Even with that determination, the protected person still has the ability in a hearing to argue against the action (including through counsel).  Additionally, notice must be given to all interested parties, which are other family members to the protected person.  Each of them can argue against the action, or that one of them should be the Guardian or Conservator.  Therefore, seeking a Guardianship or Conservatorship should only come after clear evidence the protected person is in true need of the action.  This is an action in which a lawyer is highly recommended.


      It’s important to remember that if the potential protected person is not yet at the level of requiring the Conservatorship, and he is competent to sign a Power of Attorney (POA), he can give power to another to handle financial matters.  The only problem is that the potential protected person can still conduct his own business, potentially to his detriment. Additionally, a POA can be revoked at any time.  Sometimes, a potential protected person give POA to someone who may abuse the POA to the detriment of the person, and become incompetent after giving POA.  In that event, a loved one may need to step in with a Petition for Conservatorship and/or Guardianship. That may be the only way to stop the person with POA from abusing that power to the detriment to of the potential protected person.


       If possible, it is always best to obtain “buy in” by the potential protected person before filing a Conservatorship and/or Guardianship.  In that event, the process is much more smooth, and the protected person knows and can trust the person petitioning.  The hearing becomes “pro forma”, and other family members may be placated in this circumstance.  I have seen this particularly with elderly come to realize they need the help of a child, for example, and work with them in the Petition. If the protected person fights the process, it can become very difficult and expensive.  Sometimes, the incapacitating issue is some form of dementia.  Sometimes, it may be a psychiatric or mental challenge issue.  Sometimes it comes due to a personal injury, a car wreck for example, in which the person is seriously injured and cannot handle affairs.


       This is a process that requires much thought and prayer to handle while keeping peace among relationships.  It is always recommended to obtain counsel to get through this challenging time.



        When a person or business has been damaged by the negligence or bad dealing (breach of contract, fraud, etc.) of another party, and attempts to settle between parties are unsuccessful, the wronged party will usually begin litigation.  The start point of litigation is the drafting of a Complaint to file with a court.  I write “a court”, because parties usually have choices to make with determining the court to use. First, it could be something involving parties of different states or a Federal law issue which might give the option of Federal court, but we will assume South Carolina state court.  If the wrongful act/incident happens in one place, but the Defendant lives in another, both places offer jurisdiction to litigate.  If the damages are $7500 or less, the case can be brought in Magistrate Court as well as Circuit Court.  Regardless, the SC Rules of Civil Procedure (SCRCP) apply to all state courts.  The Complaint will have to allege the basis of the jurisdiction of the court of filing, and cause of action against the Defendant.  It must allege the elements of the cause the Defendant violated.  After filing the Summons and Complaint, the party filing has 120 days to “serve” the lawsuit on the other side or it is dismissed.


        By the SCRCP, the Complaint is served with a “Summons” that was also filed with the Court.  The Summons tells the Defendant he has 30 days to answer the Complaint or will be held to have defaulted to the cause of action.  That means the Defendant can lose the case if he does not answer within that time, which starts after he is served with the Summons and Complaint.  The default provision is why “Service of Process” is such a formal process in ensuring the Defendant actually receives the Summons and Complaint.


         By the SCRCP, Service means physically giving a copy of the Summons and Complaint to the Defendant by a competent person over the age of 18 and not a party or party attorney.  In practice, this is normally executed by a professional process server.  Of note, by the SCRCP service of process is conducted for civil suits and at the start of a Family Court action, but is not needed in for most Probate Court actions.  An exception to the rule of handing the papers to the Defendant is handing the papers to “an adult of suitable discretion at the Defendant’s residence”.  Usually, this is the Defendant’s Spouse or any adult children.  For a business, the service is conducted upon an officer of the corporation, or by certified mail through the registered agent for the corporation. After serving the Summons and Complaint, the process server executes an affidavit of service attesting to the service conducted, and that is filed with the Court. The date of service starts the 30 day period to answer and starts the clock for the suit.


        Another means of conducting service of process is by mailing a certified letter. “If” the Defendant personally signs for the certified letter, that signature is considered the acceptance of service and it can be filed as such.  If a Defendant’s attorney accepts service on the Defendant’s behalf, that is considered acceptance of service (note: Most attorneys will not accept most service for clients, and that acceptance is usually not in the client’s interest).  Additionally, a party can voluntarily accept service and sign an acceptance of service.  This is sometimes done when parties have reached an agreement before the suit begins and they are settling.


        If a party avoids service by avoiding the process server and refusing to sign a certified letter, the party bringing suit can request the court allow for “service by publication”.  This means that it is published in the newspaper of record for a period of time and the person is considered served.  It is not a defense for the Defendant to claim they didn’t actually read the paper, as the rules are specific about what must happen for service to be deemed complete.


        It’s important to know about proper service of process, and mistakes will mean the lawsuit can be dismissed for improper service.


     It is always recommended to begin Estate Planning as early as possible. For some, the emotion of planning for one’s death can be a challenge to overcome.  In my personal case as an Army Infantry Officer, it was a natural and required part of our “business” of being ready to deploy to war.  The chance of death is ubiquitous, and so certain things had to be put in order to have piece of mind in deploying. One of the most important parts of Estate Planning is in executing a last Will and Testament.  The good thing is that it is something that can and should be kept as simple as possible for multiple reasons.


        When clients come to be to provide counsel for their Wills, they sometimes have every individual piece of real and personal property designated to a specific beneficiary. The problem with attempting to much specificity with a Will is that property and personal changes are certain to occur after executing the Will.  For example, property is sold or transferred in the normal course of life.  Each time that happens, it can generate the need for new Will.  A codicil (amendment to the will) is another solution, but this will actually republish the Will and multiple codicils can make the Will confusing and potentially open to attack in court. 


         The other natural change in life is with those who are beneficiaries.  A hard fact of life is that relatives, including even children, sometimes die first.  If the Will does not specify “my natural children alive at the time of my death”, then the heirs of a child will split as beneficiaries.  Additionally, relationships can change over time.  Beyond the one third elective share to a spouse (outside of a prenuptial agreement to the contrary, a spouse is legally entitled to at least 1/3 of their spouse’s estate), you are not legally required to devise or bequeath any part of an estate to a child or other relative. A child or other relative can become a “black sheep” over time, and this could generate the need for another Will.


         Keeping a Will simple means considering making your spouse the 100% beneficiary, and potentially your children as alternates.  In that event, you would likely consider the spouse acting as a primary personal representative (PR, the administrator of the estate) and one or more children as alternate PR.  Additionally, to ensure certain keepsakes or family heirlooms go to specific individuals, you can reference a “memorandum” you will leave separate from the Will, and what is written on the Memorandum becomes incorporated into the Will when the estate is probated.  On this memo, you can designate the a certain person receives a certain piece of property.  For example, a son receiving a specific rifle. With this provision, you would not need to get a new Will for personal property and can change your mind over the years on those items.


         Always have a Will, but keep it simple.  Your loved ones will appreciate it.



        One of the toughest parts of civil litigation, whether as a Plaintiff bringing the case or Defendant, is handling a Deposition.  Depositions are part of “Discovery” between parties, and will come after parties have served their pleadings (Complaint/Answer) and usually after they have exchanged written discovery.  It is the chance for the attorneys to not only obtain information from the opposing party, but evaluate the believability and presentation of the opposing party. Attorneys will usually depose other witnesses beyond the parties to the lawsuit, but the deposition of the Plaintiff or Defendant is critical to litigation. In South Carolina, once the deposition has started, you cannot speak to your attorney until it is over.  That includes not speaking to your attorney during breaks.


        The attorney goes into the deposition of a party with a few critical objectives. First, he wants to know how the party will come across to a jury. Will he or she be sympathetic to a jury?  Will he appear credible?  Will he come across as angry?  Will he lie or appear to lie?  These are all things to consider when preparing for a deposition.  It’s why a party should dress conservatively (presentation/likeability).  It’s why a party should be prepared to stay calm if the other attorney tries to make him mad.  It’s why a party should consider and ponder all the facts first before the deposition, and answer in a cool fashion (appearance of credibility). Before, during, and after the deposition, be cordial to the opposing attorney without forgetting he is opposed in interest.  In other words, do not get too close in conversation while outside the deposition he picks up information he should not know.


        The other objective of the attorney in the party deposition is gathering critical information for his case.  That’s a reason for a party to solely answer questions asked of the attorney, and take time thinking to give clear, concise answers.  Many times, a party will believe they have to talk beyond the question. The opposing attorney may learn something critical to his case when he didn’t even ask the question, or be able to use “loose” words as evidence to for his case.  Make the other attorney do his job.


        Do not try to argue with the other attorney during the deposition and become flustered. Your attorney will have the opportunity on cross examination to explain something you need explained more fully. Discuss this with your attorney before the deposition.  For example, during a personal injury car wreck deposition the other attorney may not let you go beyond a question of whether or not you saw the other car before impact. It might be important that you be able to speak about the incident beyond a simple yes or no answer due to the specific conditions.  Your attorney will give you that chance in cross examination.


       Lastly, it is critical your deposition testimony not be used to impeach you if the case goes to trial. Get the facts straight before the deposition.  If you don’t know or can’t remember those become perfectly acceptable answers.  Always tell the truth, and do it in a way a jury would both like you and believe you.


Bill Connor


The Bill Connor Law Firm

1408 Russell St

Orangeburg, SC 29115

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