When you bring a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries you suffered because of someone's carelessness as a result of an accident, medical negligence or even a wrongful death matter, the defense attorney's primary job is to show that you are lying.

They will do everything possible to show there are inconsistencies in your story.

The defense attorneys will do everything possible to show there are inconsistencies in the incident leading up to your injuries, your history, your background as well as inconsistencies in your current physical condition.

Defense lawyers will do everything possible to rummage through your medical history and scour the medical records to see if there's certain statements or comments made by you or the doctors that contradict what you are claiming in this case.

Contradictions can be deadly for someone who is bringing a lawsuit.

The reason is that your credibility is the key to your entire case. If it turns out that there are significant inconsistencies either how incident occurred or the physical effects of your injuries and what you can and cannot do any longer, the defense will make sure to bring all of that contradictory information out at trial.

The reason they want to do that is they want to show the jury that your testimony is simply not believable. The more significant contradictions and inconsistencies they can show, the more they can argue to the jury that anything else you are claiming to have said should not be believed.

A witness's credibility is the most important thing at trial.

At the end of the trial, when the judge gives the jury instructions on the law, one of the most common legal instructions given in New YOrk is something called 'Falsus in Uno'.

That's an old Latin phrase which basically means that if you find that a witness has testified falsely about one thing, you have the right to disregard all of that witness's testimony.

The defense attorney will certainly use that during closing argument and claim to the jury “How can you believe this person when they have lied to you about one critical part of their case? If they have lied about one thing, how can we believe the rest of what they are claiming is true?”

That type of argument can carry a lot of weight if there are significant inconsistencies and maybe even untruths that have been unearthed during the trial.

You should be aware that one of the purposes of cross examination is to get to the truth of the matter, and both sides try to use different strategies and tactics in order to show that the other side's witnesses are lying or inconsistent.

At the beginning of trial, all parties start on an even footing.

The jury is unaware of any inconsistent testimony that may have occurred during the pretrial litigation leading up to trial. It is only during the course of obtaining testimony during direct examination and cross-examination will inconsistent testimony come to light. The attorney who represents an injured victim has an agenda. Our agenda is to show to the jury that we are more likely right than wrong and what we are claiming is true.

Not only do we have to show that to the jury, to the satisfaction of the court, but we also have to show that the defense witnesses may not be accurate in their testimony.

The defense on the other hand doesn't have to prove anything.

Their agenda is to try and show to the jury that our witnesses are lying and inaccurate.

To learn even more about cross examination, I invite you to watch the video below...


Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer