These are some general guidelines of mine for clients when they testify in a deposition in a Pennsylvania Work Comp case, or before the Workers’ Compensation Judge. If you have an attorney handling your case, you should speak to them about their suggestions and experience.
-Always tell the truth. This goes without saying but I said it anyway.
-If you don’t know something, say so.
-If you are estimating, say so.
-If you do not understand the question, ask the attorney or Judge to repeat it in a different way- there is no video of your testimony and the Judge may not remember a look of doubt on your face, instead, the Judge will be reading words in a transcript. Words matter!
-Look the Judge or attorney in the eyes when you are answering the questions. This shows a sincerity.
-Dress in a respectful way- cut off jeans and a tank top will show a brazen disregard for the Court.
-Review your medical records ahead of time to refresh your memory as to the timeline of events especially any past relevant history of a similar injury.
-If you plan on referring to your own notes while testifying, make sure your attorney has a copy well ahead of the testimony so that he or she can give a copy to opposing counsel- this is out of fairness and the rules of evidence.
-Do not get combative with the Judge or counsel; even if you have a right to be mad or upset, if you show such emotions it can be perceived as a defensiveness and this may make the Judge skeptical. This is easier said than done.
-Get to the point and try not to repeat yourself.
-Do not start answering the question before the attorney is finished asking it- even if you know what he/she is going to say- the court reporter and Judge will be quite annoyed if you talk over another person.
-Be specific- if you are asked about your symptoms and you merely state you are in pain, that may not sound convincing. Instead, think about how you would articulate your pain- it is a burning pain? Is it constant or does it come and go? Does it radiate? Sometimes, keeping a diary can be useful in the weeks leading up to your testimony so that you can pinpoint the symptoms and how they make you feel. Most people struggle with articulating their symptoms as they become overwhelmed with emotion when talking about them. Thinking about this issue ahead of time can go a long way.
-Make sure you have a Certified Specialist In PA Work Comp Law (like me!) representing you! Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation has become complex and riddled with technicalities and confusing rules- having a specialist will likely increase your odds at a favorable outcome.
For more information about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation, call or email 7 days a week 215-206-9068 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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