Injury Attorney Witness Preparation and Sample Questions
Testifying as a witness, even for a hearing about a traffic ticket written after a car accident, can be very stressful for clients. Being prepared and thinking about simple things like where to be and when to be there ahead of time can relieve a lot of the unnecessary stress of a minor court appearance.
When you go to court as a witness for someone else’s traffic citation it is a situation that is somewhat similar to being a witness at their criminal trial. Traffic citations involve charges brought by a government entity against an individual. When you have an injury claim, even if you are not on trial, the outcome of the hearing for a ticket that was issued to the person who caused your injury can affect your separate civil litigation and injury claim later.
An attorney cannot tell a client exactly what to say but you can help a client think about the situation so that they will not be surprised by the things that are likely to happen during questioning as a witness. The client must always be told to tell the truth to the best of their ability. That involves answering all questions asked. It also should involve cautioning clients against rambling answers that go far beyond the scope of the questions.
An Injury Lawyer Often Needs To
An injury attorney who represents people who were injured in automobile accidents that were caused by another person’s negligence will often have clients who need to testify about a ticket issued to the person who caused their injury. In this situation, the injury attorney’s role while dealing with a traffic ticket is a lot more limited than most trial situations. The only attorneys that are normally expected in the courtroom are the prosecutor and a defense lawyer. The injury lawyer does not actually participate in the process of a court hearing or trial about a traffic ticket. It is significantly different than conducting a civil trial to determine fault or damages after a car accident. The injury attorney does not get to question any witnesses and you do not get to make objections. You do not even get to do anything that creates evidence that can be used at a later jury trial. You just need to help prepare your client to avoid making unnecessary mistakes.
Our Personal Injury Attorney Advise
Advising a client about testifying as a witness for a traffic ticket is similar to preparing them prior to having an insurance adjuster take a recorded statement as part of the initial investigation of an injury claim. For the most part, they tell their story and you have to let the chips fall where they may.
Following are some of the questions that I recently put together to help a car accident attorney client who had been injured by a negligent driver while walking in a crosswalk.
- Practice Questions for Ticket Hearing
- Swearing In- Swear to tell the truth
- Please state your name and spell your name
- How old are you and what is your birthday?
- Where do you live?
- What was the date of your accident and day of the week?
- What time of day?
- What were the weather conditions that day?
- Was there any construction or other obstruction to your view?
- What were you doing that morning?
- Where did the accident happen?
- Were you walking, what was your destination?
- What direction were you walking?
- Where is the intersection that the accident happened in?
- Is there a crosswalk at that intersection?
- Were you in the crosswalk when you were struck?
- What was the color of the light when you entered the intersection?
- What was the color of the light when you were hit?
- Was the walk signal lit when you entered the intersection?
- Was the walk signal still lit at the moment when you were struck?
- Did you see the car that hit you before the accident?
- How far away was the car when you saw it? ( try not to get pushed into making exact estimates about time or distances if you are unsure of the answer or you do not remember)
- Did you talk to the driver of the car that hit you?
- What was said by the driver and what did you say to him?
- Did they apologize for hitting you?
- Did they run away?
- What else did the other driver do?
- Did anyone else witness your accident?
- Did you have any loss of consciousness?
- What happened to you after the accident?
- Did the police come to investigate?
- Were you injured? What are your injuries? Did you go to the hospital?
- Have your injuries completely healed or are you still under a doctor’s care?
Injury Attorney advice before testifying in court
- Dress well. A courtroom is a formal and respectful place. You will make a good impression if you dress like you are going to church.
- Bring the summons form with you.
- Read through the police report several times in the days before going to court to refresh your memory.
- When testifying, answer the question that was asked truthfully.
- If you do not understand question ask the attorney who is questioning you to restate or rephrase the question.
- Do not be afraid to say that you do not remember or do not know the answer to a question if appropriate.
- When in doubt keep your answers short.
- Unless you are asked to tell the whole story of what you were doing the morning of the accident do not get carried away and talk for a long time.
- Be early. Possibly do a dry run to locate the courtroom before the day of the hearing. You do not want to be desperately searching for it at the last minute. That would be too stressful for you and could cause you to be late.
- Look for the court official, the “bailiff”, at the entrance to the courtroom. Let them know who you are, and that you are there to be a witness.
- Turn off your cell phone before entering the courtroom.
- Find a seat and pay close attention for when your name is announced to go to the witness box.
- If you see the driver who hit you, avoid him. Do not sit near him and definitely do not speak to him.
- Try not to worry. Although the hearing is important to you, remember that you are not the person on trial.
The questions I have prepared are not going to be the exact questions that will be asked at your hearing. They should get you thinking about the subject and help you tell a clear story.
I always caution clients not to feel pressured into saying more than they can honestly say from their own memory. Even if they know things about the circumstances of the accident that came from the police report or some other outside source, that is not the same as their own observations. Often accident victims have head injuries and have gaps in their memory especially if they were knocked unconscious in the accident.