Tips On How To Give Evidence In Personal Injury Claims
• Address the judge by their proper title
In the County Court, call the judge “Your Honour”. In the High Court, call the judge “My Lord” or “My Lady”. Ask your solicitor if you are not sure. Call barristers by “Sir” or “Madam”.
• Speak as clearly
Everyone needs to hear what you are saying. The barristers, who will be in front of you, will be asking most of the questions. But you should direct your answers to the judge, who will usually be sitting to your side.
• Know the facts of your case
Read your notes beforehand, swot up on the details and be ready to be questioned.
• Keep your answers short and concise
Don’t go off on long-winded explanations or irrelevant stories.
• If you can’t remember something – just say so
. Don’t be tempted to fill in blanks or make things up. If the defence barrister thinks you are making things up, they will pull you up on it. If they can show that you exaggerate or tell stories, the judge might wonder what else you are making up. Stick to the facts.
• Take your time
. You are allowed to think about a question before answering – you don’t have to rush. If you do not understand a question, you can ask for it to be repeated or explained.
During cross examination, it is the defence barrister’s job to challenge your story. You’ll be asked difficult questions. You might even be told that you are lying.
Don’t take it personally. It doesn’t matter what the defence barrister thinks – the only person who matters is the judge. Stay calm
and answer questions politely and truthfully. If you can’t remember something, or the barrister is saying something that is untrue, just say so.
If you stay calm, polite and clear, your evidence will be persuasive and credible.
If you get angry, stroppy and rude, you’ll not do yourself any favours.
When the barristers are finished making their cases, the judge will make their decision.
Sometimes the result is announced immediately. Other times the judge will take some time to think about your case.
When they announce the result, the judge will give reasons why they came to the decision they did. You can ask your solicitor to explain exactly what the decision means for you and what happens next.
If you are not happy with the result, you can appeal a personal injury claim decision in some (limited) circumstances. Your solicitor can advise if an appeal is an option in your case.
Hopefully your day in court ends with a decision in your favour. Court is stressful and tiring for everyone, no matter what the outcome.
So now you can go home, put your feet up and relax!