Providing Effective Testimony in a Mental and Emotional Injuries Case

Avoid Misleading Answers.

Even when technically correct, an answer that a judge or jury will consider misleading can injure your credibility in the eyes of the court. Orange County personal injury attorneys can attest that this is true both at deposition and at trial. (Remember that your deposition testimony can be used, often, at the trial itself.)

For example, you may be asked, “Before the incident, had you ever sued anyone?” You may think that this question is limited to mental and emotional injury claims, but that is not the question that was asked. If you answer “no,” because you assume the question is limited to emotional distress cases, you have placed a limitation on the question that didn’t exist in the question itself. Later, when it is shown that you have filed many claims (albeit not mental or emotional distress claims), it will look as if you were shading the truth and attempting to mislead defense counsel.

Avoid Speculation.

We often try to “read” what an examiner is trying to get at and tailor our responses accordingly. In addition, examining attorneys will often try to lead you into “reading” the behavior or intentions of others. Questions about the mental state or motives of others are especially dangerous. Do not attempt to get “inside the head” of another person, or speculate as to a person’s motives. Your Orange County personal injury attorney can give you more advice.

Here are some examples of questions seeking mind-reading answers:

  1. “Why did your employer treat you more harshly than other employees?”
  2. “Why did your employer tell you he didn’t like your attitude?”
  3. “Why did the car ahead of you suddenly make a U-turn ?”
  4. “Why did your supervisor ask you out to lunch?”
  5. “Why did your supervisor tell you that you were the employee he most relied on?”

A different situation occurs when you are asked for information about why someone acted in a certain way, or made some specific decision. You have an obligation to answer such questions only with specific information that you know, or actions that you have observed. Here are some examples:

  1. “My employer told me he disliked me because.”
  2. “My sister told me that she saw the defendant hit the rear bumper of my car.”
  3. “The dentist told me that extensive oral surgery would be necessary.”
  4. “The defendant told me that he wanted us to become close personal friends.”

You may also have seen something that would indicate why someone behaved in a certain fashion. You may testify as to anything that you actually saw. Examples include:

  1. “I saw the defendant talking on his cell phone while making a left-hand turn directly in front of me.”
  2. “The defendant handed me a card asking me for a date.”
  3. “I saw a note from my boss to a co-worker discussing ways to get me out of the company.”

If your Orange County personal injury attorney interrupts your testimony, it is probably for a reason. Pay attention to what he says. Additionally, you can testify as to your observations of conduct pertinent to the thought processes of another, so long as you make it clear that your knowledge is limited to what you actually saw, heard, smelled or tasted. For example:

  1. “I think my boss was drunk when he asked me to fly to Acapulco with him for a long weekend, because his office reeked of alcohol.”
  2. “I think the defendant was trying to conceal the truth from me, because he wouldn’t look me in the eye, kept looking at the ground, and stammered when he spoke. His speech was hesitant and jerky.”

For more tips on providing effective testimony during your personal injury trial, get legal advice from a knowledgeable Orange County personal injury attorney. Experienced Orange County personal injury attorney Samer Habbas may be able to help you. Call (888) 848-5084 today for a free initial consultation.

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