No matter how well prepared you are, it is impossible to predict what will happen when you give a sworn testimony under oath for your personal injury lawsuit. The best advice you can have is to relax, be yourself, take your time, and give all answers truthfully and to the best of your knowledge.
The following list attempts to cover some of the general rules you should follow when giving sworn testimony.
1. TELL THE TRUTH
Honesty is the best policy and nowhere is this truer than while you are under oath. When you are unable to recall something with 100% accuracy you should avoid a yes or no answer and instead reply that you are testifying from memory and that your response is accurate to the best of your ability to remember.
2. ANSWER ONLY THE QUESTION ASKED
The best way to do this is by giving a very brief answer (one word or one sentence). If the question is: Do you know that time it is? The answer is not: It’s 9:30 a.m. The answer is either: Yes or no.
3. DO NOT VOLUNTEER INFORMATION
Answer only the question asked. Offering information only creates potential problems.
4. FULLY ANSWER QUESTIONS THAT CAN HURT
THE OTHER SIDE OR HELP YOUR CASE
If you are asked to list every activity that you cannot engage in now as a result of your accident, you should be prepared to give a comprehensive, all inclusive list.
5.USE THE NINE WORD MAGIC ANSWER
When asked by Defense Counsel “Is that all?”, you should use the nine word magic answer – THAT IS ALL I CAN RECALL AT THIS TIME.
6. THINK ABOUT THE QUESTION
Think about the question before answering it. Remember the question, ”Do you know what time it is?”
7. OBEY THE APPROXIMATION RULE
Use the word approximately when giving a time, date, speed, distance, etc.
8. DO NOT GUESS
You should never guess at an answer without explaining that you are approximating.
9. NEVER SAY NEVER OR ALWAYS
These words can be used against you and are not necessary to fully answer a question.
10. LET THE OTHER ATTORNEY FINISH ASKING A QUESTION BEFORE ANSWERING
Do not anticipate the question or interrupt opposing counsel.
11. POINT OUT WHEN YOU ARE INTERRUPTED
If you are interrupted by opposing counsel, let the attorney go ahead and finish speaking. You should then respond with “I’m sorry, but I had not completed my answer to the previous question.”
12. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION
You can tell opposing counsel that you do not understand the question and ask for clarification or ask to have the question restated or rephrased.
13. ALWAYS BE POLITE
Courteous witnesses make a positive impression on the listener.
14. CLIENT APPEARANCE AND DEMEANOR
You should dress and behave appropriately. Wear clothes you would normally wear for a celebration dinner or church. Witnesses who are neat, calm, articulate, and polite rarely go wrong.
15. TRAPS FOR THE PLAINTIFF
Questions regarding how much money you are looking for or what is meant in any of the legal documents are meant to trip you up. You should answer questions such as these by saying “You would have to ask my lawyer that question.” If you are asked to state everything you can no longer do, you should state after you have listed those things, “That is all I can recall at this time.”
The above information is only a brief summary of some of the basic items which should be addressed in a personal injury case. There are a great number of other instructions which should be followed in such a case. Not knowing your rights or proceeding without the proper representation could severely prejudice your case. If you or someone you love was involved in an accident, it is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney, to make sure your rights are protected. Contact our amazing team of injury lawyers today at 888-244-5480 for a free consultation.