Testifying at Your Personal Injury Trial

Although 98% of cases settle before trial, you can’t assume yours will too. Proceeding to trial, especially in cases where injuries are severe and catastrophic, Tocci Law prepares and treats the plaintiff (the person suing) as the most important witness. The goal is to appeal to the jury, as the jury decides the amount of money awarded to the plaintiff. In order to achieve this, we aim to make the plaintiff and his/her injuries the focal point of the trial. 

How Tocci Law Prepares You to Testify: 

When you testify at your own trial, it is your time to “have your day in court.” It is your opportunity to tell your story: how the accident occurred, the injuries you endured, the pain you experienced, all of the medical treatment you underwent, and how your life has changed as a result. Tocci Law will ensure that you are well prepared prior to taking the stand. 

At Tocci Law, our team thoroughly and tactically reviews your case and collectively prepares a highly personalized “Client Booklet.”  Our “Client Booklet” is frequently 15 to 20 pages long and includes case-specific questions to be answered in great detail. Although many of our clients’ injuries are sustained in motor vehicle accidents, no client receives the same set of questions.  This highly personalized fact gathering questionnaire allows us to inquire into the specific information we need to litigate your individual case. In preparing your “Client Booklet,” we spend the time to strategize your case, identifying potential weaknesses and how to overcome them. Somewhat old school, we prefer that our clients handwrite their answers, sketch images, and attach useful documentation when working on their “Client Booklet.” Your Client Booklet is referred to you at the point in time most beneficial to your case.

Coping with Anxiety:

It is natural to experience anxiety about testifying before the jury; however, some more nervous than others. While a light amount of anxiety is normal, overwhelming anxiety may prevent the client from recalling and articulating events. We understand that trial is usually an unfamiliar experience and therefore take custom-tailored preparatory measures to calm and soothe our clients.  Thorough preparation and explanation of the trial process reduces anxiety.  For certain clients, anxiety is reduced by visiting the courthouse and courtroom prior to trial. Expressing your fears and apprehensions to your attorney may assist us in discovering the solution. By the time you are ready to take the stand, we will have you confident and reassured. 

Remembering Facts, Direct Testimony and Cross Examination:

When proceeding to trial, we know which set of facts are at issue in your case.  Reviewing the evidence and preparing for trial should be sufficient to assist you in recalling adequate facts. We assure our clients, it is fine if you do not remember a fact and it is acceptable for you to respond, “I don’t recall” to a question. At Tocci Law, we coach you on the techniques of testifying, for example, fully listening to the questions prior to responding. While it appears simple and obvious, witnesses often assume the remainder of a question and begin to respond. We advise our clients not to guess or speculate.  When witnesses are asked questions, they do not have an answer for, they may respond with an answer that makes sense to them but is not undoubtedly factual. 

There are a series of preparations we go through with our clients before they are sworn and, on the stand, so that they feel comfortable with the procedure.  Most importantly, be honest, do not exaggerate, and do not become hostile, defensive or argumentative.  The jury, especially those in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, are harshly scrutinizing you for credibility. Remain calm, truthful, and realistic while testifying.

The Plaintiff is too Injured to Testify: 

Unfortunately, there are times when the plaintiff has been so gravely injured that he/she cannot take the stand. At other times, there are plaintiffs who have suffered severe injuries that have caused loss of mental capacity. As a general rule, attorneys cannot ask their clients leading questions when they are on the stand.  However, in the situations where the plaintiff is too injured to testify, Tocci Law will fight for exceptions that will allow us to linguistically hold our client’s hands and lead them through their testimony.  

If you are interested in consulting with attorneys who will ensure you are adequately prepared throughout all phases of your case, call the Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C.  We are conveniently located at 353 Veterans Memorial Highway, Commack, New York  11725.  Call to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury case (631) 343-7676.