What Happens in Personal Injury Court - Witness Testimony and Cross ExaminationThere is much more to a personal injury case than you might think. It's not simple, nor easy, and unfortunately not cheap. That makes it important to have an experienced lawyer to help you as a plaintiff. The defendant, whoever you wish to prove is liable for your injury, will hire a lawyer too. You have the advantage in many cases, especially since many personal injury cases are settled long before court, some even before a lawsuit is filed. However, if you get an offer you feel does not cover the scope of your damages, you can reject it, go to court, and win in a bigger settlement.
We know how the jury is created, what opening statements do, so now let's go over the specifics of witness testimony and cross examination.
The whole point of witness testimony and cross examining them is for you to prove a witnesses validity, expertise, and how it then proves your case as a plaintiff. Your lawyer will put into motion proving the defendant' guilt with witnesses; the defendants lawyer will then try to rebut the witness, discredit his or her testimony in order to prove innocence.
The main evidence given in cases is facts, but when facts are given by witnesses, who perhaps saw the injury take place, it gives you the edge. Your lawyer will call witnesses and experts to testify, both who can improve your case. There is also physical evidence involved, such as video of the injury or photographs. If you were hit by a car on a well lit road, and could show pictures of how the accident occurred, or use a witness to the event in the trial, you again have an edge.
The defendant's lawyer will be doing much of the same thing. The lawyer will try to rebut evidence after the plaintiff rests. He or she will attempt to enter new evidence, perhaps new witnesses, to show what happened in their mind. In other words, the defense tries to create doubt in the jury about facts, to question the expertise of the witnesses, and to show how the defendant is not at fault for the injury.
How does the witness process work?
Think back to the law drama you might have watched on television, where the oath is taken and the witness sits. The plaintiff calls the witness, the witness takes the oath, the lawyer gathers key information from the witness, the defense offers criticisms, and finally the plaintiff gets a chance to refute the cross examination by the defense. So the witness is called, first questioned by the plaintiff, then the defense, then the plaintiff again. When the defense calls a witness, they get to question first, then the plaintiff questions, and back to the defense.
This process is for experienced lawyers, so it's okay if you cannot grasp the entire process through words. Hopefully you'll never have to see the court room, choose the jury, prove your case, and wait for a decision. But if it does occur, you know the basics.