Top 3 Tips for Testifying in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Many workers’ compensation clients at Ricci Law Firm never testify about their injury. If the process goes smoothly, the attorney does all the talking, and the parties may reach a settlement or agreement outside of court. However, sometimes to achieve justice for the injured worker, the attorney recommends a hearing where the employee will testify. Here are our top three tips for testifying:

1. Relax

Many clients at Ricci Law Firm dread the day they will have to testify at a hearing. They worry that they will say the wrong thing or mess up their case. Relax! The best witnesses are the calm ones, because they think clearly and appear honest. If you are nervous, take a deep breath or picture the judge naked…works every time.

2. Answer the Question

Most mistakes during testimony are made when an injured worker either answers the wrong question, or answers the question and then volunteers information that was never asked:

Question: What did you slip on?
Answer: A puddle

Question: How big was the puddle?
Answer: Pretty big. I was supposed to mop it up but forgot.

The employee provided the information in bold voluntarily. He inadvertently revealed information he did not have to disclose. Just listen, answer, and stop. Here is another example:

Question: What doctor wrote you out of work?
Answer: My shoulder doctor told me to work full duty.

By answering the wrong question, the injured worker missed her chance to explain that her knee doctor wrote her out of work. Plus, now the defense attorney will be curious about why the employee saw a shoulder doctor; most likely, the defense attorney now will focus on the worker’s shoulder…was there another accident? Again, this mistake may not affect the case, but the confusion could have been avoided if the worker had listened to and answered the right question.

3. Don’t guess

Injured workers want to appear honest and helpful, so they sometimes think it is best to estimate or guess if they don’t know the answer. Resist that temptation, no matter how hard the attorney pushes! Here is an example:

Question: How much did you earn after your injury?
Answer: $8 per hour

Question: And how many hours per week did you work?
Answer: I can’t remember.

Question: More than 10?
Answer: I think so.

Question: More than 20?
Answer: Maybe…I guess so.

Question: More than 30?
Answer: I think so, but I can’t remember.

Question: But you’re pretty sure it was more than 30?
Answer: Maybe, but not full time.

Wow! Our forgetful employee just accidentally admitted that he worked 30 and 40 hours per week. If the paperwork arrives later showing that he worked only 10 hours per week, he may look untruthful if he backtracks. Here is a better response:

Question: And how many hours per week did you work?
Answer: I can’t remember

Question: More than 10?
Answer: Like I said, I really can’t remember.

Question: So you can’t even give me an estimate?
Answer: No, I’m sorry but it’s been a long time, and I just can’t remember.

If you follow the above tips when testifying, you will be a witness rock star! And if you make a mistake? Don’t fret – in most cases, the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Ricci Law Firm can ask follow-up questions to clear up any confusion.

Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Serving Greenville and Raleigh

I’m Brian Ricci, a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Greenville and Raleigh. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work, please call me at (252) 777-2222 for free, friendly advice.

I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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Founder of the leading personal injury website: http://www.riccilawnc.com/personal-injury/