If you have been involved in an accident or received some type of injury, and your Connecticut injury lawyer is not able to resolve your case without putting it into suit, then chances are you will have to give sworn testimony under oath. We always tell our clients, no matter how well prepared you are, it is impossible to predict what will happen when you give sworn testimony under oath.
In almost every case, you will not be happy with everything you said in your deposition or while on trial so it is important to stress a number of ground rules to assist you with testifying under oath. Our Connecticut personal injury lawyers provide this information to our clients to help them relax and to answer questions truthfully and to the best of their knowledge.
The following list attempts to cover some of the general rules you should know when preparing to give sworn testimony under oath:
Tell the truth. We have all heard the phrase that honesty is the best policy and at no time is this more true than when you are testifying under oath. If you are unable to recall something with 100% accuracy then you should avoid giving a yes or no answer and instead indicate that you are testifying from memory and that your response is accurate to the best of your knowledge, information and belief.
Answer only the question asked. Give a very brief answer, usually one word or one sentence, and do not ramble on. By way of example, if the question is: "do you know what time it is?" The answer is not: "9:30 AM". The answer will either be yes or no.
Do not volunteer information. Answer only the question that is asked of you because offering information can only create potential problems.
Make sure you fully answer questions that can hurt the other side or help your case. If you are asked to list every activity that you can no longer engage in now as a result of your accident related injuries, then you should be prepared to give a comprehensive, all-inclusive list of all of those activities;
Think about the question that is being asked. It is important that you only answer the question that you are being asked and not anticipate what you think the person that is questioning you wants to hear;
Obey the approximation role. Use the word approximately, when giving a time, date, speed, distance and any other response when it is appropriate;
Do not guess. You should never guess at an answer without explaining that you are approximating;
Do not say never or always. These words can be used against you and are not necessary to fully answer the question;
Let the other attorney finish asking a question before answering. Do not anticipate the question or interrupt opposing counsel;
Use the nine word magic answer. When asked by defense counsel after your answer: "is that all?” You should give the nine word magic answer:"that is all I can recall at this time.” The reason you want to give this answer is that if you later remember something you can truthfully indicate that you did not recall this additional information at the time you originally answered the question;
Point out when you are interrupted. If you are answering a question and are interrupted by opposing counsel you should let the other attorney finish speaking and then respond by saying "I’m sorry but I had not completed answering the previous question.”;
Always be polite. A courteous witness makes a positive impression on the jury;
Your appearance and demeanor. You should dress and behave appropriately. Wear clothes that you would normally wear for a celebration dinner or to a religious event. Witnesses who are neat, calm, articulate, and polite really go wrong; and
Traps for the plaintiff. Questions regarding how much money you are looking for or what is meant in a particular legal document are meant to trip you up. You should answer these questions by saying “you would have to ask my lawyer that question.” If you are asked to state everything that you can no longer do, as a result of your accident related injuries, you should say after you have completed your list, “that is all I can recall at this time.”
If you review the facts of your case, and any prior statements or testimony you have given, and relax and be yourself then you are more likely to give better testimony under oath.
If you have any questions or concerns, or if you need any other additional information, please feel free to contact one of our Connecticut accident lawyers who will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with additional information.