Things You Should Know Before You Testify

Most cases settle before trial.  However, many cases require the parties to participate in depositions, and some cases do, in fact, go to trial.  Whether you are in a deposition in your lawyer’s office (or the other lawyer’s office), or on the stand at trial, you are testifying under oath and there are a few things you should know.

Listen to the Question and Answer that Question

Sometimes, when witnesses take the stand and are asked a question, they provide the answer to a different question.  For example, if your lawyer asks you, “What happened when you woke up March 5th, 2014?” the answer probably isn’t, “I got in a car accident and broke my leg.”  The answer probably is, “I got up at 6:30 in the morning, and got ready for work like I always do.”  You can trust that your lawyer will get to the questions about the details of the accident in good time.

Trust Your Lawyer

Your lawyer understands the Rules of Evidence, the Rules of Procedure, and the standard of proof required in order to win your case.  Trust that your lawyer has prepared the case, bearing the rules in mind.  Don’t try to supplement the record with information your lawyer hasn’t asked for.  If your lawyer has asked you if you were wearing a seatbelt, it is unlikely your lawyer is interested in the color of the car that hit you, the fact that you couldn’t sit in an exit row on the flight to your daughter’s wedding because of your wheelchair, or how upset you are that the driver of the other car never even apologized to you.  If your lawyer is interested in those details, and believes they are relevant, trust that your lawyer has those questions prepared as well.  If you start injecting facts out of order, it can temporarily throw your lawyer off their game, as well as distract the other parties from the area your lawyer currently wants to focus on.  Finally, you may inadvertently cause a mistrial if you start testifying before a jury about information the court has previously ruled inadmissible.

Don’t Guess

When you testify, you are under oath.  This means you have agreed that everything you say will be the truth.  If you don’t recall something, don’t guess.  You might guess incorrectly.  Instead, if you can’t recall the answer to a question, simply respond, “I don’t remember.”  The lawyer who asked the question probably knows the answer already.  They will be able to show you a document, a transcript of prior testimony, or ask the question in a way that may refresh your recollection of the relevant event.  Guessing can lead to serious – and unnecessary - problems.

Understand How the Process Works

After your lawyer completes asking you questions in court, you will likely be asked questions by the other lawyer, in what’s called “cross-examination.”  While on television, this is almost always painful and humiliating, this is largely not the case in real life.  Listen to the questions and provide accurate answers.  Know that once the cross-examination is complete, your lawyer will have another opportunity to “re-direct” your testimony, should your lawyer feel that the record is inaccurate, incomplete, or otherwise needs supplementation. 

If You Have Been Injured

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Working in the Cold – Recommendations and Cautions

There are several steps an employer must take when the employer has workers out working in the cold.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a report detailing dangers and safety tips for employers and employees when workers are working in cold weather conditions. Many risks confront workers when they are forced to work out in the cold. Some of the dangers are obvious and some are not. There are two keys to working safely in the cold:


  • Be aware of the dangers of working in the cold; and
  • Be prepared by wearing appropriate clothing and gear.


Even if it does not seem particularly cold, if you are injured your situation can quickly become dire if you have not prepared accordingly. Remember, not all cold weather dangers are obvious.

Be Aware of the Dangers of Working in the Cold: The Dangers of Frostbite

Body extremities such as toes, fingers and ears and noses can be susceptible to frostbite. The results of frostbite can be severe, including removal of the damaged body part. Frostbite occurs when one of those extremities freezes. Damaged tissue is the result. There are many warning signs for frostbite. They include stinging, pain, tingling or numbness in the area affected. As you might imagine, frostbite sets in faster in colder temperatures. It is important to be aware of the temperature. It is also important to dress appropriately. Wear winter hats, gloves, jackets and shoes or boots that are appropriate for the weather. Do not spend any more time working out in the cold weather than is necessary.

The Dangers of Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, not only is hypothermia one of the biggest dangers when working outside, it can also be one of the most difficult to recognize. At its mildest, hypothermia starts with confusion. People suffering hypothermia often do not even realize they are suffering until it is too late. That confusion can also cause you to make mistakes while working, resulting in injury or death.

As with frostbite, appropriate clothing can help you avoid hypothermia. There are symptoms of hypothermia you can watch out for in yourself and your coworkers. Early stages include:


  • Confusion;
  • Shivering;
  • Loss of coordination; and
  • Feeling tired.


After the initial symptoms if they are not caught in time, symptoms will continue to worsen and include:


  • Skin turns blue;
  • Shivering stops;
  • Pupils dilate;
  • Pulse and breathing slow;
  • Loss of consciousness. 


Be Prepared by Wearing Appropriate Clothing and Gear

Appropriate clothing and gear are vital when working in the cold. Winter hats, gloves, jackets, and footwear should be required before allowing workers to work in cold weather conditions.  Loose layers of clothing provide the best insulation. The clothing workers wear must not interfere with freedom of movement or vision as the clothing would then be a hazard themselves.

Have You Been Injured in the Workplace?

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