Will I Need to Testify in My Hernia Mesh Case?

There's a small chance that a hernia mesh plaintiff might need to testify at trial, but deposition testimony is a near certainty.

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?

When a Plaintiff Might Testify in a Hernia Mesh Lawsuit

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.

Deposition Testimony

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:

  • to get an idea of how credible and sympathetic the plaintiff might come across to a potential jury or judge
  • to find out more about the plaintiff's legal claims (including details of the plaintiff's diagnosis of mesh failure and necessary corrective treatment)
  • to obtain additional information that may support or refute a potential legal argument
  • to get the plaintiff to confirm a particular statement or fact while under oath
  • to get information to potentially contradict something the plaintiff already said or might say in the future, and
  • to ask questions that might lead to information not otherwise known.

Trial Testimony

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.

Likelihood of Plaintiff's Testimony in a Hernia Mesh Case

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:

  • The plaintiff's own words will help bolster his or her case. In many hernia mesh cases, a plaintiff will want to recover compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages that are fairly subjective from person to person.
  • The defendant might contend that the plaintiff should have done more to reduce any harm or complications from a defective or botched implant. The plaintiff will want an opportunity to refute this argument.

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.

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