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10 Tips for How to Make a Good Witness When Testifying at a Deposition or Trial

If you are the party who has been injured and is bringing the lawsuit, you will most certainly be called upon to testify in a deposition or in open court (if you are at the trial stage).  You will be asked about the following topics:

  1. Who you are
  2. How did your accident happen
  3. Your injuries and treatment
  4. The way that your accident has affected your life

The success or failure of your case may rest wholly or partially upon your ability to make a good witness.  Here are 10 important things to keep in mind before taking the witness stand:

Dress Appropriately

It is important to remember that you should be testifying in a respectful manner. That includes the way that you dress.  What you wear and how you wear it tells something about you. You should wear conservative clothing that you would normally wear to an event like a religious service. Avoid name brand clothes, name brand purses, expensive or large jewelry or revealing clothes. The best way to dress would be to do so in a way that no one would remember what you wore to your deposition or trial the next day.

Act Engaged

Sit up straight. Lean forward. Speak in a normal consistent voice. Look the person asking you the question or in the eye when listening to them or giving an answer. The attorney for the insurance company will be looking for non-verbal clues as to whether or not you are testifying truthfully and genuinely. Avoid slouching. If you are in pain during the deposition, you can always ask for a break or you can ask to stand up while answering questions which is common in an injury lawsuit deposition.

Tell The Truth

It goes without saying, but lying and exaggerating will get you nowhere in your lawsuit. You should assume that you have been under 24 hour surveillance since the date of your accident. Therefore, if you are asked whether or not you mow your lawn, tell the truth. The opposing insurance company may very well have you on video doing just that two weeks earlier. To testify in a way that is inconsistent with the surveillance that they have will most certainly flush your case down the toilet. Likewise, tell the truth about how difficult the period of time has been since the accident. Remember, you are acting as your own witness. Be your own best advocate. Do not blow things off or act like everything is OK now. Everything is not OK and you should tell them that. After all, it is the truth!

Be Consistent

Keep in mind that you may have given a previous statement in which you relayed facts of the case or information about your injuries. Being consistent with what you told someone before is absolutely imperative to your credibility. Changing your story or constantly coming up with new information leads to a lack of credibility.

Avoid Beginning Your Answers With Certain Phrases

Do not under any circumstances begin your answers with “In all honesty…”, “Truthfully…”, “Honestly…”. You have already been sworn to tell the truth. When you answer questions in this manner, the representative from the insurance company or the jury will assume that what you are about to say is a lie.

Turn Your Cell Phone Off

Do not allow your cell phone to go off during a deposition or a trial. This shows disrespect for the process. Additionally, keep in mind that everyone present at the trial or deposition is there because you brought a lawsuit. For you to waste any time with a noisy cell phone would be disrespectful to the parties involved and the jurors who have given of their time to be present for your trial.

Do Not Smoke or Vape

Smoking and vaping are controversial activities. Non-smokers tend to judge smokers based upon the fact that they smoke. You should also not smoke or vape during breaks. Keep in mind that insurance company representatives and/or jurors are always watching you since you are the party that has brought the lawsuit.

Walk and Act Normally

Again, keep in mind that you may have been the subject of surveillance at any time since the date of your accident. If your mannerisms and/or the way that you walk or limp is inconsistent with the way that you walked a few months earlier, while on surveillance, a juror or an insurance company representative may look at this as being an exaggerating or non-truthful action. As stated above, anything that is perceived as inconsistent or not truthful could sink your case.

Don’t Guess and Answer Only the Question That Was Asked

When testifying, listen to the question that was asked of you. Only answer that question. For example, if you are asked “do you know what time it is”. The answer to that question is yes or no. Thereafter, if you are asked “well…what time is it?” Then, you can answer that question. If you do not know the answer to a question, simply answer “I don’t know”.  Questions answered with an “I don’t know” almost never hurt you unless “I don’t know” is being used too frequently to avoid answering any questions. By contrast, if you are guessing answers to questions, it is very difficult to remain consistent. Guessing will look inconsistent and unsteady.

Be Positive and Confident

Give positive and definite answers when at all possible. You are testifying about things that happened to you. You are likely the only person who knows what happened to you. Therefore, it should be easy for you to testify as to what exactly happened to you and how it has affected you since the date of your injury. If you are testifying truthfully and in a non-exaggerating manner, you should be very confident in what you are testifying to and how you are testifying.

Hire Femminineo Law for Your Injury Case

The experienced attorneys of Femminineo Law have been representing those who are injured as a result of the negligence of others for over 25 years.  We fight to get you the compensation that you rightfully deserve.  We pride ourselves on our communication and we will have you fully prepared to testify in your case.  Call us anytime at 855.65.CRASH to get your case started.

Hire the best personal injury lawyers in Michigan

Femminineo Law, PLLC is Michigan’s finest personal injury firm. He has succeeded in recovering hundreds of millions of dollars for victims of highway accidents, medical malpractice, slips and falls, and for wrongful death matters throughout the State of Michigan.

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