Most personal injury cases settle before trial. However, sometimes, for any number of reasons, a personal injury case goes to trial. In trial, either a judge or a jury decides the facts of the case, from who is at fault to how much money an injured party may be entitled to. Of course, working with your personal injury lawyer to prepare for trial is a critical step in the process.
Understanding how a Personal Injury Lawyer Prepares for Trial
Different lawyers prepare for trial differently. However, all personal injury lawyers prepare for trial in some way or another. Much of your personal injury lawyer’s preparation happens without your presence or knowledge. However, as the injured party, expect to testify in your case. As such, you can expect your personal injury attorney and his team will want to meet with you prior to trial to discuss things such as:
- Your testimony; as well as
- General rules regarding testimony.
Understanding Testimony in a Personal Injury Trial
If you watch television at all, you have probably seen one or more grilling cross examination scenes. Don’t let those television scenes, designed for maximum drama, intimidate you. In real life, participants generally find things are not that dramatic. Your personal injury attorney will want to meet with you ahead of your trial to discuss your case and your testimony.
You will first be asked open ended questions, where you have the opportunity to describe your accident, how it impacted your health and well-being, your recovery, and anything else your personal injury attorney believes is important. Some attorneys practice anticipated cross examination as well. Cross examination is very different from direct exam. Most of the time, cross examination consists of yes or no questions.
For both direct and cross examination, your personal injury attorney will discuss their expectations about your testimony. Sometimes, your personal injury attorney may review evidence with you, such as photos of the scene of the accident, your medical bills, your personal injury journal, or other exhibits. If you gave a deposition, your personal injury attorney will ask you to review that testimony as well.
General Rules Regarding Testimony
Here are some basic general rules of testimony that hold true in every case.
- Tell the truth.
- If you don’t understand the question, don’t guess as to what the lawyer means. Ask for clarification.
- If you didn’t hear the question, don’t guess the content of the question. Ask for clarification.
- If you don’t know the answer, indicate you don’t know the answer. Don’t guess.
- Listen to the question. Answer only the question asked, regardless of what you think the question should have been.
- Only provide information directly related to the question asked. Don’t add more information that wasn’t asked about.
- Take your time. Many attorneys encourage witnesses take a deep breath before answering each question. This gives the witness time to think about what was asked and organize their thoughts.
- Finally, resist overstating or understating the extent of your injuries.
If You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured, you need an advocate on your side, representing your best interests and fighting for you. The personal injury attorneys at Fetterman & Associates have the experience you need to advocate for you. Contact us at 561-845-2510 to discuss your case.