Testimony of plaintiff’s spouse
The plaintiff’s attorneys who usually wring the last dollar out of the defense insurer make sure that there are depositions of the spouse and friends of the injured plaintiff, and that those depositions spend more time than you might expect on their descriptions of the injuries, difficulties, and pain of the injured person. And the same is true at trial. The spouse and multiple friends are brought in to testify about the injuries.
The two most important reasons why this technique works are:
- We do not like to hear people complain about their own health, but are interested by someone else telling “how bad it is.”
- There is a bandwagon effect. The more people testify about “how bad it is,” the more likely we are to feel the same way and not want to object that the plaintiff is just out to make money.
The following checklist can be used for each witness on the subject of the plaintiff’s injuries. Some experienced plaintiff’s attorneys may give this checklist to their clients to study what questions the attorney will be exploring with them before their depositions or the trial. This checklist will encourage their observation of their injuries during the months before deposition or trial, so that they will not forget items of interest to the jury.
This checklist is also used by some defense lawyers taking the deposition of the injured plaintiff’s spouse, to discover what evidence there will be at trial.
Checklist: Testimony of personal injury plaintiff’s spouse
1. FAMILY BACKGROUND
- Ages of you and Plaintiff now.
- Your occupation.
- Plaintiff’s occupation before the injury.
- Date of marriage.
- Children’s names and ages now, and if living in the home now.
2. FIRST NOTICE OF INJURY
- How and when did you learn first that Plaintiff had been hurt?
- When you first saw Plaintiff after the accident:
- What did Plaintiff look like?
- Was Plaintiff able to walk and use his arms and legs and do everything he could before the accident?
- Did he show or express pain when you first saw him after the accident?
- How did your first view of Plaintiff affect you?
3. TREATMENT PLAINTIFF RECEIVED
- Generally how much time was spent by you and Plaintiff getting this treatment?
- Doctor visits?
- Physical therapy?
- Out-patient services?
- Transportation to and from medical treatments?
- Medical costs of Plaintiff?
- Home nursing services:
- How much time did it take in the home to nurse Plaintiff?
- What did you have to do?
4. EFFECT OF INJURY
- Please tell the jury the changes you saw in Plaintiff after the injury. (Compare before and after injury.)
- Physical impairments?
- Appearance (disfigurement)?
- Physical pain?
- Mental anguish?
- Indications of discomfort and pain?
- Walking, posture?
- Other body movements?
- Performing job duties?
- Social activities?
- Clubs, trips, dancing, church, etc.?
- Hobbies, sports?
- Did you see what effect the injury had on Plaintiff’s capacity to earn money?
5. SUMMARY: ACTIVITIES AND BODY MOVEMENTS
Generally, how would you describe what is different about Plaintiff’s activities as compared with before the injury?
6. SUMMARY: MENTAL CONDITION; PAIN AND SUFFERING
Generally, how would you describe what is different about Plaintiff’s mental condition as compared with before the injury?
7. HAVING TO DO WORK OF PLAINTIFF’S NORMAL JOB
Did you have to do any of Plaintiff’s job duties, take over driving, etc.?
8. EFFECTS OF INJURY ON SPOUSE OR FAMILY
- Any reduction in lifestyle because of loss of Plaintiff’s income?
- Any time or stress in having to take care of Plaintiff?
- Any health problems, before accident, of you or your family?
9. EFFECT OF INJURIES ON ACTIVITIES IN HOME
- Were there things that did not get done or that were no longer done by Plaintiff?
- Yard work, gardening?
- House maintenance?
- House work?
- Repair work?
- Car maintenance?
- Other examples?
- Laundry, sewing?
- Child care?
- Children counselor?
- Restrictions on your time left available for yourself.
10. EFFECT OF INJURIES ON SOCIAL ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE HOME
- Times with relatives or friends?
11. LOSS OF CONSORTIUM
- Has loss of Plaintiff’s normal assistance and support made a change in your enjoyment of life or in your marriage?
- Emotional support?
- Sexual relations?
- Before injury, proceedings started or contemplated?
- After injury, proceedings started or contemplated?
- What have you been told by doctors to watch for or expect in the future? Has this injury caused worries for either you or Plaintiff for your future?
- Fear of future injuries.
- Fear of bad changes in condition.
- What are your worries about Plaintiff?
14. BEST ITEM TO END WITH
What is the biggest change you have seen in Plaintiff since the injury?