Many witnesses are often worried about the questions they will be asked in their personal injury cases, particularly questions about the injury itself. In most cases, attorneys are limited to asking questions about the accident, your injuries and diagnoses, your treatment plan, and your abilities as a result of the injury. However, the way these questions are asked can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
How to Answer Questions About Your Injury on the Stand
Here are some things to remember as you respond to injury questions in court:
- Stick to facts. Don’t try to give an answer that can’t be measured. The question “how much pain were you in?” is hard to place a value on since all people perceive pain differently, so any answer you give will be vague at best. However, describing which activities you could and could not do is a factual answer and gives the jury a better picture of your limitations.
- Don’t “sell” your case. When you are asked about your injury and treatment, it is important that you answer each question one at a time. Don’t give a long-winded answer about the doctors you saw, the visits you made to hospitals, or how your treatment has affected you. Give yes or no answers whenever possible.
- Don’t exaggerate. Avoid trying to convey to the jury how tired or in pain you were after the injury. Remember: any answer you give can be backed up with facts. If you attest that working after surgery was extremely difficult, but you were able to complete tasks from home, the jury may not believe that you were as limited as you say.
- Don’t try to outwit the opposing attorney. Too many witnesses try to “head off” an attorney who is asking a particular line of questioning. For example, if you injured your right hand in a car accident, the opposing lawyer may make a point of confirming that you are left-handed. Don’t attempt to defend your injury by explaining how you use your right hand; your attorney’s questioning should make your limitations clear.
Your attorney should thoroughly prepare you for questions before you take the stand, but it never hurts to get as much information as possible before your D.C. court date arrives. Find out which mistakes can ruin your case by reading the related links on this page.