Even though most Providence car accident cases rarely go to trial, there is always the possibility that your case could go to trial and you might have to testify. Even though your Providence car accident lawyer may have given you excellent deposition tips, testifying at trial is a whole new experience.
There is the pressure of being in the courtroom and speaking in front of a judge or jury. Besides, the purpose of a trial is very different from that of a deposition. At your deposition, the opposing counsel asked you questions meant to inform him about your case. Your testimony at trial on the other hand is meant to present your case to the jury in the most favorable way possible. How you prepare for a deposition is not the same way you prepare for your trial.
Direct Examination During Your Providence Car Accident Case
Your Providence car accident lawyer will be the first one to ask you questions during your trial. This is what is known as direct examination. During this time, your lawyer is not allowed to ask you “leading questions” so you should know what type of questions your lawyer will ask and how to answer them. Leading questions are questions that suggest an answer.
Every lawyer has their own way of prepping their clients. Some lawyers prefer to use scripts, which have a list of questions they will ask and the answers they expect their clients to give. The script is beneficial because it:
- Gives you an idea of the type of questions that you will be asked. Getting on the stand without a clue will only make you give out unnecessary information, which leads to more questions.
- Gives you an idea of the type of questions that your lawyer will expect from you. Even if you do not understand the question, you will know what answer to give based on the conversations you’ve had with your lawyer or from the answers you gave during your deposition.
- Gives you the opportunity to inform your lawyer if the answer you will give will be different from the one they expect. If this is the case, your lawyer might change or drop the question.
Just to be clear, a script isn’t meant to give you the exact answers; it’s meant to give you an idea of the answers your lawyer expects you to give. Don’t memorize the answers because this will only make your testimony seem fake and rehearsed.
As mentioned earlier, every lawyer has their own way of prepping their clients. If you feel the script approach might work for you, don’t hesitate to inform your lawyer about it.
Cross Examination During Your Providence Car Accident Case
After your direct examination, opposing counsel will ask you their questions. This is known as cross-examination. The defense lawyer will ask you leading questions. For example, they might ask you to say “yes” or “no”. For instance, they might ask you something like “is it fair to say that you had a previous back injury in the exact same spot before you got into this accident?”
It is very important to avoid agreeing with the defense lawyer 100%. You can qualify your answers with things that can help your case. For instance, you can say something like, “Yes, I did have a back injury prior to this accident but it had completely healed and I was no longer taking any type of pain medication for it or in need of physiotherapy.”
You may not be able to qualify all the questions but you should do so whenever possible. You will not have the advantage of going through a script before your cross examination but, you should ensure you go through your deposition transcript. Read it as many times as possible to familiarize yourself with the nature of your answers during your deposition.
If your testimony at trial is inconsistent with the testimony you gave at your deposition, you could damage your credibility in front of the jury.
Your Demeanor at Trial
You should try to keep your cool as much as possible especially during cross-examination. The defense lawyer will try to provoke you with his questions. Don’t give in. if you give in and get angry, all the jury will see is a bitter, angry person who wants to get vengeance and not a sympathetic victim who is trying to get compensation for their injuries.
It’s also important to remember that the jury is your audience; not the judge or the lawyers. Therefore, when answering questions, always turn to look at them. It may seem awkward but it will make them pay attention to what you are saying.
Minimize the Impact of the Bad Facts of Your Case
The defense lawyer will try to address the shortcomings of your case during direct examination. However, if you address them during direct examination, the defense lawyer won’t be able to use them to make you appear less credible.
For example, if you address the fact that you had a preexisting injury before your accident, the defense lawyer won’t be able to use this fact against you during cross examination. In addition, you will appear come across as honest for divulging bad facts on your own.
What to Testify About During Trial
You will be expected to testify about how your Providence car accident happened. You will also be expected to testify about your pain from the medical treatment and about the accident. You will address your emotional pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, lost wages and your inability to do the things you used to do before the accident because of your injuries.
The good news is that your testimony is only part of your case and it might not even be that important. Remember that you won’t be the only witness testifying. There will be expert witnesses such as a medical expert, a car crash expert, etc. Their testimony will also be used as a deciding factor for your case.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Providence and you want your case evaluated for free, we can do it for you. You can reach us at Kevin P Landry Law Offices by calling 401-751-0101 or by visiting our Providence offices today for a free initial consultation.