A Lay Witness Should Avoid Making Conclusions and Emphasizing Observations
Lay testimony that emphasizes the observations of the lay witness and minimizes his or her conclusions constitutes the best possible testimony.
For instance, if a lay witness testifies that you have epilepsy or emphysema, he or she is simply restating something somebody else has said and essentially adds nothing to your disability case, especially if other or further evidence shows that statement to be wrong. Instead, the lay witness should describe how their normal life is effected by this disability.
Likewise, testimonies from a lay witness stating you are “permanently disabled,” “totally disabled,” or simply “disabled” is not helpful. The Social Security Act does not premise disability on total or permanent disability and a lay witness who uses these terms may muddy your presentation. This is particularly pertinent if the whole of the evidence demonstrates you are indeed disabled but your disability is neither permanent nor total.
A Lay Witness Will be Prepared but not Rehearsed
Before the hearing your lawyer will interview witnesses in order to select those who will be most beneficial, and inform those chosen how to testify most effectively.
However, the witnesses will not be rehearsed by your lawyer since testimony that has been rehearsed will almost always appear to be so and consequently given less weight. Testimony that has been rehearsed usually appears stilted and trite and loaded with unnecessary details. Quite often it overlooks productive or crucial information that might show up in spontaneous testimony.
A Jacksonville Social Security disability attorney will know what you need from lay witnesses in your hearing. Contact disability attorney John Fagan at 904-278-1000 to schedule a free consultation.
John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981.
John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder.
In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home.
John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation.
John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates.
Service to the Community
John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
The information provided on this web site is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Every case is different and requires individual attention before such advice can be given. Neither the transmission nor receipt of general advice to or from our website will constitute an attorney-client relationship.