View From The Bench

Magistrate suggestions on how to be a good witness at trial.

5621821439_ee898c76ba_mA workers’ compensation trial is a formal hearing that occurs before a magistrate. Witness testimony is always taken under oath and digitally recorded. Other evidence submitted at trial includes medical records and deposition testimony from experts.

Trial can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The magistrate will make a determination as to the facts and law. This is done by judging the credibility of witnesses and expert opinions.

Ignore what you have seen in movies and television. There are no fancy courtrooms and spectators are rarely present. A magistrate will simply receive evidence and issue a written opinion at a later date.

I recently had an opportunity to spend some extra time with several local magistrates. I was curious about how they viewed witness testimony and what helps them decide credibility. Forget what you think you know. Here are some trial suggestions and witness tips.

How to be a good witness at trial

Don’t give a sales pitch. Embellishment comes off as phony and can harm credibility.

Answer direct questions. Don’t elaborate and try to explain away problems.

Resist the urge to include every detail in your testimony. Medical records and deposition testimony will fill in gaps.

Be honest about problems in your case. Defense counsel wants to get you upset and expose weaknesses on cross examination.

Don’t answer if you are confused. Ask for clarification of the question.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

Injured On The Job: A Guide to Michigan Workers’ Compensation Law (Free Book)

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Vectorportal.

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