For patients dealing with different types of hernia, surgical implant of a mesh screen has become a common treatment, but increased use of hernia mesh has corresponded with a rise in complications linked to this kind of procedure, which has prompted the filing of thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits nationwide.
If you're considering a legal claim over defective hernia mesh or a botched implant procedure, one concern might be whether you'll need to testify. The short answer is probably yes. But when and where?
There are usually two potential times when a plaintiff (the person filing a hernia mesh lawsuit) will need to testify. The first is during discovery, when the defendant (typically the mesh manufacturer) asks to take the plaintiff's deposition. The second potential setting for the plaintiff's testimony is during trial.
A deposition is a live question-and-answer session where a person answers questions under oath. In a hernia mesh case, the defendant (usually the mesh manufacturer, but sometimes a health care provider) will want to take a plaintiff's deposition for a number of reasons, including:
Most hernia mesh cases settle, so trial is rare. And a plaintiff is not legally required to testify at trial, but they typically will if the case reaches this stage.
For one thing, a judge or jury will obviously notice when a plaintiff does not testify, and might assume there's a weakness in the plaintiff's case. But more importantly, a plaintiff's testimony can be very compelling, especially to a juror. Almost no other piece of evidence from the plaintiff will be able to convey the extent of the harm and other losses the plaintiff has experienced.
It's likely that the plaintiff will at least need to testify in a deposition. As mentioned above, most hernia mesh cases reach settlement, but it's rare for any kind of resolution to take place before the two sides go through the information-gathering "discovery" process. A key tool in this process is the deposition. At a minimum, it will give the defendant an idea of what to expect from the plaintiff should they testify at trial.
While the plaintiff's deposition may not be as important as an expert witness's deposition in a hernia mesh case, there's still a good chance the defendant will want the opportunity to ask the plaintiff about a number of details related to the case, especially as to symptoms associated with the hernia mesh failure and the effects on the plaintiff's daily life.
The defendant is especially likely to want the plaintiff's deposition if they have a suspicion that the true nature and extent of injuries is different from what's being claimed.
The prospect of a plaintiff testifying at trial is much less likely, simply because there's little chance of a trial actually taking place. But when a hernia mesh case does make it all the way to trial, it's likely that the plaintiff's testifying will only improve his or her chances of winning, since:
Bottom line: At trial, the most effective evidence will usually be the plaintiff's own words.
If you're thinking about filing a lawsuit over injuries caused by defective hernia mesh, you and your lawyer will work together to develop the best strategy for your case. Learn more about finding the right hernia mesh attorney for you and your case.