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Cross-Examination of the Sympathetic Plaintiff in a Personal Injury Case: Plaintiff and Defense Strategies

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will equip trial lawyers to handle the challenging task of cross-examining a plaintiff claiming significant injury. Defense counsel is between a rock and a hard place: push too hard in the wrong way and create sympathy for the plaintiff; hold back too much and the defense fails to point out critical flaws in the plaintiff's case. Plaintiff's counsel is always ready to exploit this dilemma.


Rare is the case that does not come down to the plaintiff's testimony. Whether in a deposition or during the trial, counsel must know what to ask and how to ask it. Counsel must decide whether the deposition or trial should be the focus and how to prepare for the substance of both.

The defendant's counsel must walk a tightrope between advocacy and sympathy. If a case is likely to proceed to trial, counsel's deposition of the plaintiff may concentrate on establishing opportunities for impeachment at trial. However, counsel's plan to impeach the plaintiff must be nuanced to present a vigorous defense without alienating the jury.

Plaintiff's counsel will want to prepare the plaintiff to share facts showing liability and damages. Moreover, the plaintiff must be ready to provide facts that rebut the defendant's defenses and theory of the case.

Listen as our panel of courtroom veterans discusses when to opt for a deposition-focused or trial-focused approach, how to prepare for either, and an appropriate tone to discredit the plaintiff's testimony without engendering jury sympathy.



  1. Differences between deposition cross and trial cross
  2. Witness preparation
    1. Information gathering
    2. Legal research
  3. Deposition conduct
  4. Learning the plaintiff's case
  5. Getting admissions
  6. Setting up impeachment
  7. Trial issues
  8. Know the answer to every question before asking
  9. Lines of attack
  10. Discrediting plaintiff testimony without fostering backlash sympathy


The panel will review these and other critical issues:

  • Whether to make deposition or trial the venue for plaintiff's cross-examination
  • Substantive preparation and planning for the plaintiff's deposition
  • Strategies for discrediting the plaintiff without provoking anger at the defendant(s)
  • Deposition strategies that plaintiffs use for fortifying their case


Jabbour, Aref
Aref Jabbour, Ph.D.

Senior Jury Consultant
IMS Consulting & Expert Services

Mr. Jabbour is focused on ensuring IMS’s attorney clients mitigate their risks during trial. He is a clinical...  |  Read More

Perry, Marc
Marc H. Perry

Post & Schell

Mr. Perry is a Principal in Firm's Casualty Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the...  |  Read More

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