Never Try To Be Your Own Lawyer

You Need A LawyerWe help you to “just answer the question”.

Last week I was sitting in a deposition and this phrase came to me and seemed like the right title for a blog. It comes to me quite often, when I am listening to clients answer questions. I am not being critical as much as I am wondering how to teach clients to help their own cases by being better witnesses.


After an accident you hire a lawyer and if you have hired one with experience and knowhow you will simply have to answer the questions. You should not need to advocate for yourself or your case; your job will be to simply answer the questions.

This is true when it comes to providing testimony about what happened in the accident as well as in the medical treatment phase. How were you injured? Just answer the question by describing the injury, and without adding "my back", "my injury", "my arm", "my medical treatment", etc. After all it is you who is answering these questions and we all know it is about you. To add "my this and my that" is to advocate. Unnecessary. Completely unnecessary. 

There are a lot of things you participate in doing, but advocating for yourself should never be one of them.

Of course I am speaking mostly of testimony.

Your testimony comes in several forms. Written and oral. This is the discovery phase of your case.


During the discovery phase of your case expect thirty or more written questions asking for information about you, the accident and your injuries, the medical treatment involved in treating the injuries. The lawyer sends these to you, you provide preliminary information, the lawyer’s staff will clean it up, you will review those answers, finalize them, sign and the lawyer will serve the written answers. These are under oath so pay attention to what you say, but do not advocate as if you have to sell yourself, the accident or your case. You shouldn’t have to.


You don’t have to love your lawyer. But you do have to respect his or her abilities as a lawyer. If you selected the right lawyer then your lawyer will know how to advocate for you. Your job will be to provide the information necessary to create a basis for the lawyer to advocate your legal rights to receive compensation.

Many times when I receive the client’s preliminary answers to interrogatories advocating is pretty obvious. “I got hurt when my accident caused my back injury.” Notice the word my. My is not necessary, because the questions were in a specific lawsuit having to do with a specific plaintiff – you. The same information could be conveyed by simply saying, “The low back in the center was hurt in the accident.” Or, “I noticed pain in the center of the spine, right after the accident.

No “my’s”, no double or triple “my’s”.

So stop advocating as if you were talking about someone else. Hire the right lawyer and if your lawyer is in over his or her head, encourage them to contact us online or call us directly at 515.222.1110 to act as co-counsel. Let us advocate for you and teach you how to do it right.


Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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