Tips When Testifying in a Personal Injury Case

Testifying in Personal Injury Case

You may not be the person injured in a personal injury case; however, if you witnessed an accident happening or have seen the effects of an accident on a loved one’s day-to-day life, you may be called to testify as an “incident” or “lay” witness.

This refers to:

  • People who witnessed the accident first-hand
  • Friends or family who have seen first-hand how your injuries from the accident have affected you on a day-to-day basis

Tips When Testifying

Whether you are the Plaintiff, Defendant or Witness, here are a few tips to keep in mind should you need to testify.

  • Always take a subpoena seriously. Do not ignore it and do as instructed.
  • Always be honest when testifying in court – recount the events as you remember them occurring. It is okay to say, “I don’t know.” If the question is about distances and time and your answer is an estimate, clearly state that it is an estimate.
  • Do not answer a question you do not understand. Ask to have the question clarified or re-stated.
  • Do not guess, lie, embellish or overexplain. Remember, “just the facts.” Be sure to speak in your own words. Memorized or rehearsed testimony does not come across as convincing.
  • If your answer was not stated correctly, be sure to correct it immediately. Try not to get flustered; just explain the mistake honestly.
  • Give definite answers when possible. Try to avoid using “I think” or “I believe” or “In my opinion.”
  • Remember, your words are being taken down by a court reporter and will be read later.
  • Be sure that you are clear headed. Alcohol and over-the-counter or prescription medicines can make your brain foggy so that you are not thinking clearly.
  • If you are testifying in a deposition, it is okay to ask for a break; however, in the courtroom, leave it to the judge to make these calls.
  • Dress well and appropriately. In the courtroom, appearance can matter.

Of course, the attorney involved will give you advice on how to behave in the courtroom or in a deposition.

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