At some point during your personal injury or medical malpractice case, you may be called upon to testify. This could be in a deposition or it could be at trial. In rare cases, you may be required to testify at a pretrial hearing. While the situations may be different, there are many constants that remain the same regardless of the forum in which you are testifying. The first and most fundamental principle is that you must prepare for your testimony. Many people think, “If I'm just going to show up and tell the truth, why should I prepare?” This is a fair question. The answer is, “Testimony follows certain rules that are not similar to real-life experiences. Preparing will make you a better witness.”
Meet With Your Legal Team as Directed
Your legal team will want to meet with you before your testimony. This isn't an attempt to get you to say a certain thing, rather, it is to prepare you for what is to come. Contrary to what you see on television, much of civil law is not particularly exciting. For example, before a witness can testify to a document, it must be admitted into evidence. This involves “laying foundation” for the document. Laying foundation is relatively universal and typically calls for the following questions:
- Do you recognize this document?
- What is it?
- How do you recognize it?
- Is this document in the same condition as when you received it (or, in the case of a photograph, does this picture fairly and accurately reflect the condition of the subject at the time in question?)
In order for this process to go smoothly, it is essential that you meet with the legal team to review these documents ahead of time. This ensures you have plenty of time to review the documents and refamiliarize yourself with them in the comfort of an office rather than when you are on the stand.
Follow Your Legal Team's Instructions
Once you have met with your legal team, you may be given some homework. For example, they may ask you to review your personal injury diary to remind yourself of the stages of healing you experienced. You kept this diary specifically because you (and your lawyers) knew you would not be able to recall the minutiae the diary would entail. This diary, documenting the day-to-day journey of healing, will be critical to providing the fact finder with actual data about your injury and recovery.
Your lawyer may also ask you to review other legal or personal documents. If your lawyer or legal team asks you to do something in preparation for trial, do it. It is in your best interests.
Do You Need Legal Representation?
If you need legal representation due to an injury from medical malpractice or the negligence or carelessness of others, contact the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian, LLC. Our firm focuses exclusively on these types of cases. We have the legal team that can provide you the support and dedication your case needs. There is no fee for a consultation. Call 1.800.592.6162 today.