Required To Submit To A Polygraph As A Personal Injury Plaintiff?

If you've recently been injured in a car crash, slip and fall, or other type of negligence-borne accident, you may be working with your insurance company (and perhaps a lawyer) to seek repayment for your medical expenses and other costs incurred. And while you were likely expecting to have to turn over some documentation during the discovery process, you may be shocked to find out the defendant is requesting you take a polygraph before the case can proceed. Here are the uses of polygraphs in personal injury cases, as well as what you can do to prepare for this process. 

Can you be required to submit to a polygraph exam? 

Because polygraph testing can be expensive and time-consuming, it's generally pulled out as a tool only when the defense has some reason to suspect that you or other witnesses aren't telling the truth about the incident that led to injury. 

If you're not willing to voluntarily submit to an exam, the defendant may be able to seek a court subpoena requiring you to show up at a certain time and place so that the exam can be administered. While the defendant does need to provide some concrete reasons why a subpoena for polygraph testing is necessary, the rules of evidence in personal injury cases in most states are elastic enough that judges will approve this request, even if the polygraph results are later deemed inadmissible.  

What should you do to prepare yourself for a polygraph exam?

While you may feel tempted to do whatever you can to calm your nerves before the exam, being nervous is OK – this will help establish a baseline so that your heart doesn't immediately begin racing or your palms sweating as the first question is posed. Being nervous is a completely understandable reaction for anyone undergoing a polygraph exam for the first time, so it's very unlikely this nervousness will be viewed by the judge or jury in a negative light. 

You'll also want to ensure you listen carefully to each question and pause for a moment before responding. Even if it's a simple baseline question like your age, the name of the street you live on, or your favorite animal, taking a moment to compose yourself before you respond can keep you from being lulled into a quick pattern of responses that may trip you up if you're asked a hard-to-follow question (or if, after a series of questions designed to elicit "yes" answers, the asker then switches to "no" questions).

For more information, talk to a professional like W. H. POLYGRAPH SERVICES LLC.