How to Testify in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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How to Testify in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Entering a courtroom as a witness in a wrongful death lawsuit is a complicated and emotionally charged experience, especially if the person who died was a loved one.

Your testimony holds the power to help obtain justice and bring closure to your family. Below, learn about the crucial role that witness testimonies can play in a legal matter and what to expect when giving your testimony.

The Importance of Witness Testimony in a Wrongful Death Suit

Few lawsuits share the gravity that wrongful death investigations do and the testimonies of people who were involved or who witnessed the tragic events are of immense significance.

These accounts can help establish key facts about the case and construct an accurate timeline of events leading up to the incident. It also provides a human element to the case, illustrating the personal experiences of individuals who saw the event and the profound impact it has had on them.

Whether bystanders, family members, first responders, or medical experts, the testimonies of these witnesses provide a chronological framework for the case and can offer solace about a loved one’s last moments after the tragedy.

Preparing Your Testimony

If you are called to testify in a wrongful death case, it’s important that you prepare ahead of time to deliver a clear and impactful presentation. Go over the case details and commit them to memory so you can recite them with confidence on the stand, especially under cross-examination. You should also discuss potential challenges you may face with a qualified attorney and any steps you can take to mitigate them.

What to Expect When Testifying

Knowing what you can anticipate during the hearing and what your responsibilities are can help calm your nerves before going on the stand and help you recount the events as they happened.

Instead of focusing on courtroom procedure and other impertinent details, you can focus on providing helpful testimony. Before testifying, you will be asked to swear to tell the truth. This is a legally binding promise that you will provide accurate and honest information to the best of your knowledge.

Then, your attorney will begin by asking questions about what happened and what you saw during the events leading up to the incident. Be prepared to offer a detailed and chronological narrative of everything you witnessed.

Once your lawyer has finished with the direct examination, the opposing attorney will be able to ask you questions during cross-examination. The lawyer may seem rude or aggressive, or like they’re trying to trip you up or get you to say something specific. It’s best to stay calm and answer these questions truthfully and succinctly.

Either attorney can raise objections during questioning or while you are providing your testimony. The judge will decide if the objection should be sustained or overruled and will let you know how you should continue. Don’t be afraid to show true emotions, but be careful to maintain your composure and avoid becoming overly upset since this could potentially discredit you as a witness.

Tips for Success

Here are some more helpful tips for a successful wrongful death testimony: 

  • Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand. If something you’re asked doesn’t make sense to you, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification before you answer the question. You don’t want to end up giving a problematic answer because you didn’t fully understand what was being requested.
  • Don’t make speculative statements. The other side’s lawyer will likely object and anything you said will be stricken from the record if the judge sustains the objection. The jury may form a negative opinion of you if this happens, which could impact how seriously your testimony is taken.
  • Try not to contradict yourself. The attorney cross examining you will likely try to get you to trip over your words or make statements that conflict with one another. Memorize your testimony so you can provide consistent statements regardless of the questions asked.

Get the Legal Support You Need to Be an Effective Witness

Remember that good preparation is the foundation of effective testimony. Ask questions and communicate openly with your lawyer so you can understand the case details and where your statement fits within it.

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we understand how emotionally challenging being a witness in a wrongful death case can be and we’re here to help you navigate this process as smoothly as possible. Contact us today to learn more about filing a wrongful death suit or to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your case by dialing (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.

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