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Your Doctor is Testifying. He's Saying Things You BELIEVE are UNTRUE. If You Yell OUT That Your Doctor is a Liar in the Middle of Trial, Will That Help Your Medical Malpractice Case?

You sued your doctor. 

 
For medical malpractice.
 
You claim he was careless.
 
You claim his carelessness caused you injury.
 
You also claim your injuries are significant and permanent.
 

Your doctor says "NONSENSE!"

 
Your doctor claims he did nothing wrong.
 
Your doctor says he treated you within the standards of good medical care.
 
He then claims that even if he did something wrong, so did you.
 
He then argues that if he did something wrong, whatever he did not cause your injuries.
 

Then he argues that even if he did something wrong that caused you harm, your injuries are not as bad as you claim.

 

Since the defense disputes every part of your claim, that means you are going to trial.
 
It means the defense refuses to negotiate.
 
It means the defense will never settle your case.
 
So now you're at trial.
 

Your lawyer calls your doctor to the witness stand as his first witness.

 
Your lawyer begins to cross examine him.
 
During the course of cross-examination, your doctor says something that infuriates you.
 
Your doctor is wrong!
 
He's lying through his teeth.
 

You know he doesn't want to be held accountable for his actions.

 
Your doctor is lying!
 
He put his hand on the bible.
 
He swore to tell the truth.
 
But he's lying.
 

You know it.

 
You immediately scream out from the back of the courtroom "YOU'RE LYING! ADMIT IT!"  
 
The judge yells at you to be quiet.
 
The judge instructs the jury to disregard your outburst.
 
The judge is not pleased.
 

Your doctor...the one you sued is unfazed.

 
A few minutes later, the doctor replies to another question from your attorney.
 
This time, you cannot control yourself.
 
You stand up and start screaming at the doctor "YOU SON OF A BITCH! YOU ARE A LIAR! STOP TELLING THE JURY THESE LIES! WE SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU!" 
 
The judge bangs his gavel.
 
Hard.
 

The jury starts murmuring to themselves.

 
The judge points his finger at you and tells you to be quiet and sit down.
 
The judge yells at you and tells you that if there's one more outburst he's going to throw you out of the courtroom and not let you back in.
 
The judge tells your lawyer that he better do something to stop you from these continued outbursts.
 
You know, in your heart of hearts, that your doctor has lied multiple times.
 

The jury doesn't know what you know yet.

 
The jury only knows what they've heard in court up till now.
 
Which isn't very much.
 
They don't know the full story yet.
 
They don't know why you are so outraged that your doctor testified the way he did.
 

The jury is now questioning your credibility.

 
The jury does not understand why you are so upset.
 
Do you think you scored any points with the jury because of your multiple outbursts?
 
The reality is that you did not.
 
Especially when they don't know all the facts of your case yet.
 

The jury is at slight disadvantage this early on in your case.

 

They have only heard opening arguments from your lawyer and the defense lawyer.
 
Your attorney has called your doctor as his first witness.
 
That means they've not yet heard your testimony.
 
That means they have not been able to reach their own conclusions about whether your doctor is telling the truth.
 

You will find that the best trial attorneys create different strategies to show a witness is being less than truthful.

 
There are different tactics an attorney can use to expose different lies.
 
One tactic can be to show discrepancies between what your doctor said during his pretrial question and answer session and what he's said here at trial.
 
The moment you begin disrupting the trial, you make it more difficult for your attorney to effectively show those contradictions.
 
You make it difficult for the jury to believe what you have to say.
 

The jury inherently knows that the issues are disputed.

 
They know that your doctor does not agree with your claims that he was careless and caused you harm.
 
They know that from watching TV courtroom dramas.
 
They know that from from the movies.
 
They know that from participating in jury selection.
 

They know that from listening to opening arguments in your case.

 
They also know that when you get up testify your version of the events will likely be different than what your doctor has already said.
 
It will ultimately be up to the jury to determine what the real facts are.
 
In case you didn't know, the jury is the real fact finder here.
 
They're the ones to decide who is telling the truth and who is not.
 

Not the judge.

 
The judge makes rulings of law.
 
He decides what evidence gets admitted and what questions can be asked.
 
The judge controls what goes on in the courtroom and which witnesses will testify.
 
The jury decides whether you are more likely right than wrong.
 

I understand it's frustrating to sit in the back of the courtroom watching your trial unfold listening to witnesses who are being less than truthful.

 
You get this visceral gut reaction where you want to stand up and shout out to the entire world that the witness is lying.
 
As much as you want to let your attorney know this and as much as you want to let the judge and jury know this, the better practice is not to jump up and start yelling and screaming.
 
Instead, let your attorney do what he's trained to do.
 
Let your attorney know during a break about certain points that you believe your doctor has lied about.
 

In his own way, your attorney will show and highlight those contradictions.

 

Remember, credibility is the key in any civil lawsuit.
 
In addition, you will find that the best trial lawyers do not hit the witness over the head with an obvious contradiction.
 
Let's say that your attorney has just shown that your doctor has lied.
 
You do not want to call further attention to it.
 

You leave it alone.

 
He's made his point.
 
Now move on.
 
A young, novice attorney may feel the jury needs to hear about this contradiction over and over again.
 
"Doctor, I didn't hear what you said. Can you repeat it again, nice and loud so the jury can hear it?"
"Doctor, I'm not sure the court reporter heard you. Would you please repeat your answer so she has correctly recorded it?"
 
Enough.
 

The jury gets it.

 
They understand.
 
So let's get back to the headline of this article.
 
Does it do you any good to scream out your frustration and tell the entire court that your doctor is a lying SOB?
 
None at all.
 

In fact, it will likely hurt your credibility and show that you are on the verge of being unhinged and cannot control yourself.

 
Better practice is to let your lawyer do his job.
 
He'll get to it.
 
One question at a time.
 

To learn a cross examination strategy that blew up in an attorney's face, I invite you to watch the quick video below...

 

Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer