Testimony Advice from Spokane Attorneys: Does anybody really know what time it is?

spokane attorneys for workers comp testimony blog

When giving testimony, the number one goal is to be specific and direct in your answers. This in no way means being evasive or misleading, but you don’t want to open up doors or go down rabbit holes you don’t need to, either. Our Spokane attorneys provide services to all of eastern Washington and will help prepare you for a successful outcome.

Prepare for Your Testimony

For example, when someone asks, “Do you know what time it is?” a typical response is, “Sure, it’s 5:30.” It doesn’t seem harmful and we assume the person asking the question just wants to know what time it is. But that isn’t actually what this person asked. They only asked whether you know what time it is… and this is a yes or no question.

When attorneys ask you questions during testimony, they are trying to get you to paint a picture about a given topic that they may ultimately present to a jury. For example, instead of just answering “yes” to the question of “Do you work at Acme Office Building?” you say, “Yeah, I work there, everyday from 9 to 5.” You’re just being conversational, but the attorney may say, “Well, what about vacations or sick days, or weekends?” You say, “Well, yeah, obviously..” but the attorney interrupts and says, “Have you ever taken time out of a workday for a doctor’s visit?” You say, “Yes” and then the attorney says, “On what date?” You say you don’t remember. He says, “Well, when was the last time you left early to pick up your kid when they were sick?” Your answer: “Well, I don’t remember exactly.” Seems like no big deal but now you’re nervous and back-peddling. The attorney could have you falling into a couple of these silly traps. They try to paint a picture of you as a having a bad memory, or even as a liar, when the original question was just to establish if you work for Acme Office Building.

Test Your Testimony

Movies and courtroom TV dramas make use of this little game all the time to create tension. We think to ourselves that it would never happen that way, and that we’d never fall into that trap. However, we challenge you to test yourself in a phone conversation. It’s amazing how often you fill in the blanks without thinking about it. If you’re in a deposition or otherwise giving testimony, slow down, take a breath, and think about what you’re being asked before you answer.

“Do you know what time it is?” is the standard question we use to explain how to answer questions in a deposition or live testimony. We like using it because most of us want to be helpful. We want to be team players. We also look for subtext to our conversations. We think, if this person is asking if I know the time, they must be wanting to know if we can update them on the current time. Therefore, most people answer this question along the lines of: “It’s 5:30.” When you’re testifying in court, you have to throw out this desire to be helpful. You have to take a breath after the question is posed, think about the actual words said: “Do you know the time?” The question is a yes or no question. This is not a question to be answered any other way. If the question was, “Would you please tell me the time?” the answer is the actual time, assuming you knew it.

Choose Professional Spokane Attorneys for Your Case

Test yourself in a phone conversation, it is amazing how often you fill in the blanks on questions. Contact us if you need help with your worker’s compensation case. Our Spokane attorneys are experts and successful in fighting for you!