If you’ve been injured in an accident and you’ve filed a lawsuit against the responsible party, there is a chance that your case will go to trial.
During your personal injury trial, direct examination is the process by which your attorney questions you or another witness to help your case.
Direct examination is different from cross-examination, which is the process by which your attorney asks questions of a witness who may present testimony that hurts your case.
In a typical personal injury lawsuit, the attorneys for both parties will engage in direct examination and cross-examination when the case goes to trial. In this article, we discuss direct examinations in the State of Georgia.
Direct Examination 101
All courts have their own procedures and rules governing the ways in which cases will proceed. These procedures and rules generally cover the examination of witnesses.
One form of examination in a court case is direct examination.
Direct examination allows a personal injury plaintiff to provide the court with information about certain aspects of his or her case. Common issues covered during direct examination in a personal injury trial include:
- The plaintiff’s background
- The plaintiff’s life prior to the accident
- The facts surrounding the plaintiff’s accident
- The care and treatment the plaintiff received to address his or her injuries
- Property damage suffered by the plaintiff
- The effects of the plaintiff’s injuries on his or her life
- The pain and suffering experienced by the plaintiff
- The plaintiff’s damages
However, this list is not exhaustive; just about any relevant issue can come up during direct examination.
Direct Examination and the Trial Process
Direct examination is one of the primary ways that a plaintiff presents his or her case to the court during a trial. And although it is just one of many things that a jury will evaluate during a personal injury trial, it can be extremely effective and persuasive when done correctly.
Questions presented to a plaintiff during direct examination are asked by the plaintiff’s attorney, and they are typically open-ended. In other words, they are presented in a manner that doesn’t suggest an answer.
After direct examination, the defendant’s attorney is given the opportunity to cross-examine the plaintiff. Questions presented during cross-examination are usually leading. After cross-examination is finished, the plaintiff’s attorney is given a chance to ask the plaintiff follow-up questions to clarify his or her previous answers; this step is called redirect examination.
Direct Examination Tips
If you have been injured in Georgia and your case proceeds to trial, you may have to answer questions on the stand. Fortunately, prior to your trial, your personal injury attorney will prepare you for your direct examination to ensure that it is as effective as possible. And although your attorney will prepare you to answer questions in court, below are some general tips to keep in mind prior to your direct examination.
Speak in Your Own Words
Although it can be tempting to do so, you shouldn’t attempt to memorize your direct examination answers prior to trial. Rather, you should answer the questions posed to you in your own words. Doing otherwise will result in less convincing testimony.
When you speak, you should do so clearly. This means that you should properly enunciate and speak slowly and loudly enough for the jurors to you hear and understand you. Further, you should refrain from doing anything on the stand that may distract jurors.
Tell the Truth
Although this should go without saying, you must tell the truth while on the stand. Doing otherwise can only hurt your case. If you fail to tell the truth and the defendant’s attorney has evidence that contradicts your untruthful statements, he or she will point this out to weaken your case.
Finally, similar to telling the truth, don’t exaggerate while on the stand. Exaggerating can be construed as lying, and this can hurt your case. While on the stand, simply answer the questions you are asked to the best of your ability—no hyperbole is necessary for your case to succeed.
Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney in your corner. At Hasner Law, PC, our Atlanta personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers will provide you with aggressive and effective legal representation, doing everything we can to ensure that you obtain the compensation you are entitled to for your personal injuries. The founding attorney of our law firm, Stephen Hasner, has over two decades of experience representing clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Please contact us today at (678) 888-4878 to schedule a free consultation with one of our talented Atlanta personal injury lawyers.