The longer answer requires an explanation.
Let's say you sued your doctor.
For medical malpractice.
You believe he was careless.
You believe his carelessness caused you harm.
So you sued him.
But only after you went to the best attorney you could fine.
And only after your attorney hired a medical expert to review all your records.
And only after your medical expert confirmed your doctor violated the basic standards of care.
And only after your expert determined that his wrongdoing was a cause of your injury.
And only after your treating doctors confirmed that your injuries are permanent and significant.
You sued him to get compensated for all the harms, losses and damages you suffered.
Then he claims that "If I did something wrong AND it caused you harm, your injuries are not as bad as you claim them to be!"
Those are the typical defenses that a doctor will usually claim in a malpractice lawsuit.
Oh yes, then your doctor tells his attorney that "I'm never going to settle this case. Let a jury decide this!"
That means your case is going to trial.
That means that it will take two to three years for you to get to trial here in New York.
During your litigation, the defense is going to to do everything possible to destroy your credibility.
Let me say it a different way.
If you are not believable, you will likely lose your case.
The jury looks to see if they believe you.
Do they believe your experts?
Do they believe your evidence?
Do they believe your testimony?
It all comes down to whether the jury believes that you are slightly more likely right than wrong.
If yes, then the jury will be required to give you a verdict in your favor.
If no, then the doctor will likely win.
Because your credibility is paramount in a civil lawsuit seeking money as a form of compensation, the defense lawyer will do everything possible to try and destroy it every chance he gets.
The defense will do a background search on you.
The defense will do a criminal background check on you.
The defense will check to see if you've ever testified or brought a lawsuit before.
If you have, they will obtain every transcript of testimony you gave.
Then, they'll scour it page by page and compare it to what you said in this case to see if there are any contradictions.
They'll want to see if you were ever convicted of a crime.
Are there any skeletons in your closet?
If so, there's a good chance the defense lawyer and his investigator will unearth them and expose them during your trial.
Why do this?
If the defense can show the jury that you are less than credible, he stands a greater chance of getting a defense verdict.
If the defense lawyer can show that you lied, then he can argue "How can you believe what he said about this case if he's lied in the past?"
There's a powerful little jury instruction that the judge explains to the jury at the end of your trial.
That can be devastating if the defense has shown you lied about something.
It could destroy your entire case.
The jury could disregard some of your testimony.
On the other hand, the jury could disregard ALL of your testimony.
What's the bottom line?
The bottom line is that the defense lawyer will try to chip away at every inconsistent statement you've made in your case.
He will try to show that you cannot be believed.
The more he's able to do that, the more your credibility is thrown into question.
The more substance he has to confirm that, the greater his chances are that the jury will believe you have been lees than truthful with them.
Remember, your credibility is EVERYTHING in a lawsuit and at trial.