When parts of a personal injury case hinges on others, many of our clients worry that witnesses, the negligent responsible party, and others will fail to provide accurate information, which could harm their case. In order to ensure that we get the information needed to help our clients, our personal injury lawyers in Lafayette have developed a few questioning techniques we use. Here are 4 of them.
Identify a “Tell”
When someone is lying or refraining from telling the whole truth, they have a “tell,” or something that they do to show when they’re lying. Some of the common ones that we’ve seen include:
- The inability to look directly at us
- Shifting their gaze while answering the question
- Looking at their attorney before answering
- Stumbling over their words
When we see any of these actions or others, we know that there is something missing from their answer that we need to aggressively expose.
Ask Direct Questions
When we need specific answers, we need to ask direct questions. When preparing to speak with witnesses, the responsible party, or others, we make a list of questions that we plan to ask. We work through the questions to make sure that they’re as direct as possible so we can get clear answers from these individuals.
There may be a question that a client doesn’t understand, or they may choose to answer a different way. When we reword the question, it removes the ability to dodge the question or think of a different way to answer it. We use this tactic when people aren’t giving a clear answer; this way, the person understands the question and can answer more specifically.
Rather than rewording the question, sometimes we make the decision to ask the same question again. We may even end up asking it multiple times in order to wear down the client. For example, if the attorney asks a witness, “Where were you on the night of August 24th?”, the witness may give an ambiguous answer. By repeating the question several more times, the witness realizes that they need to give a direct answer in order to move onto the next question or give the correct answer because their “tell” is showing that they’re lying or holding back important information. In the end, they give an accurate response, and the attorney can ask the next question.
Questioning helps bring out the truth, but in order to be effective, Lafayette personal injury attorneys need to have the skills and experience to get the needed information. At times, we need to be aggressive in order to get information. With experience, we know how to do this and can help our clients get the answers they need from others.