No – it is not a requirement to testify in your personal injury case, but it is sometimes beneficial for the injury victim to take the stand. Your testimony may be compelling, and it can help generate sympathy if the judge and jury have an opportunity to hear your story and empathize with your situation.
Your testimony may also be the most convincing and clear way for you to tell the jury the full scope of your suffering after an accident.
Your lawyer can provide medical documentation and the court can hear about your injuries or read your relevant medical records, but that’s not the same as hearing you explain how you feel. Personal injuries, especially catastrophic injuries such as brain injuries, spine injuries or other head injuries, can have a drastic negative effect on your life. It can be hard to grasp how far reaching those consequences are and just how many aspects of your life have changed as a result without you telling the jury your story.
If you’ve suffered significant burns and scarring in an accident that was someone else’s fault, a jury can read that in a medical report and understand on a surface level what happened to you and what the results of the accident were. They won’t understand the full scope of the impact of your scars, injuries and experience without hearing you tell them how your life has changed since the accident. They won’t know what it’s like for you to go out in public or the struggles you face on a day-to-day basis unless you get on the stand, tell your story and have them empathize with what you’re going through.
Plaintiff testimony can be an incredibly compelling tool in some cases, so you should strongly consider testifying if it’s what your personal injury attorney suggests.
In some cases, the plaintiff’s version of how the accident occurred will be different than the defendant’s version. In scenarios like that, it may be beneficial for the plaintiff to take the stand to explain in their words what they experienced at the time of the accident.
If the defendant is denying that the car accident was their fault and they take the stand and tell their side of events, the jury will only have heard the defense’s side of the story. It could be greatly beneficial to the plaintiff’s case if they get on the stand and provide a counter to the defendant’s version of events.
In Some Cases, Plaintiffs Should Not Testify
Life is complicated, and there are situations where a plaintiff may have a criminal history or other aspects of their past that could be used against them on the stand. Avoiding the stand is common advice for criminal defendants, as their defense could potentially be jeopardized by how they come across to the jury or when they are subjected to the prosecution’s cross examination. There’s a potential for something similar to happen in a personal injury case.
To put it simply, if a personal injury plaintiff isn’t sympathetic or there’s something in their past that could call in to question their honesty or character, such as having filed several personal injury lawsuits in the past that could be described as frivolous, it is likely best they don’t take the stand.
Don’t Let Testifying Stop You from Filing a Claim
Many people are afraid of public speaking. Some people with extreme phobias may even be discouraged from filing a personal injury claim because they are worried they will be called to testify.
You shouldn’t let that stop you from contacting a personal injury attorney if you were injured by someone else’s negligent actions.
There’s no rule that you must get on the stand. The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled outside of court during pre-trial negotiations, which means most people never have to testify.
Even if your case is one of the few that actually makes it to the trial phase, you still don’t have to get on the stand if it’s something you’re worried about doing.
Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by another person, business or government agency’s negligent or criminal actions, you deserve compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering and lost wages. The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Johnny Phillips are ready and willing to fight for you.
We know many people are uncomfortable with public speaking, but there are a few important things our clients can rely on that may help put them at ease.
First, chances are you won’t need to testify because most cases settle out of court. Second, you are not, under any circumstances, required to get on the witness stand. Third, if you do testify you can rest assured that we will be by your side the whole time and will take all the time necessary to help you prepare for your day in court.
Call our office at 833.564.6693 to schedule a free case evaluation. During your evaluation, we can help you understand your chances, any unique challenges your case presents and give you an idea on the likelihood of a pre-trial settlement for your case. We will come to you if your injuries prevent you from coming to us.