Everyone has seen movies where lawyers object in the courtroom. While often exaggerated, objections are a real part of the legal process and an important protection. An objection is a protest, where a lawyer asks the judge to disallow something. This can be a piece of evidence, a witness’s answer to a question, or even the question itself. Objections can only be used when something would violate the rules of evidence or courtroom procedure—in other words, when something improper is being said, presented or requested. The judge has the power to decide whether an objection has merit or not.
Objections can be made by either side. In personal injury cases like a car accident case or slip and fall accident, they most commonly happen at two points during the process:
- During a deposition prior to trial
- At the trial itself
What is a deposition and what kind of objections can I make?
A deposition is when a witness formally answers questions prior to the trial, with both sides’ lawyers present. The witness is under oath and the answers they give will count as evidence at the trial. In a personal injury case, the most common person to give a deposition is the accident victim themselves, and the deposition is part of the discovery process.
If you have to give a deposition your personal injury lawyer will help you prepare. Your attorney can also object if questions are inappropriate. However, during a deposition, there are very few topics that are not allowed—the insurance company’s attorneys may ask endless, seemingly irrelevant questions. This is part of their tactic to upset you, frustrate you, and get you to say something that contradicts your story.
Your lawyer can object, however, if a question:
- Is clearly meant to embarrass you
- Violates your privacy
- Relates to something protected by attorney/client privilege
Depending on the type of question your attorney objects to, you may not have to answer the question at all, or you may answer now and the objection will be noted to the judge later, who could block your answer from being used as evidence. Listen to your attorney’s advice about whether or not to answer a question.
What are the most common objections in a personal injury trial?
There are literally dozens of reasons an objection can be made. All of them revolve around the idea of not allowing any bad evidence, nor any violation of courtroom procedure. Some of the most common objections include:
- Ambiguous or misleading: The question isn’t clear enough for the witness to answer
- Irrelevant: The question is irrelevant to the case, like asking a victim about their salary in a car accident case
- Badgering: The attorney is mocking the witness or antagonizing them
- Speculation: The question requires that the witness take a guess or speculate
- Hearsay: The question is about something the witness doesn’t know firsthand, also known as hearsay
Objections can be used to protect you from unfair or misleading questions in court. They can also be used by the other side to try to block what you see as important, relevant evidence. The complexity of objections and evidence is part of why it’s so important to have professional legal representation in your case.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.