The Importance of Witness Testimony in Personal Injury Cases
The National Safety Council reports that there were more than 60 million personal injuries in the United States in 2021. These accidents resulted in over $1 billion dollars in damages. Due to expensive medical costs, lost wages, and overall pain and suffering, our justice system allows victims to seek compensation for personal injury accidents caused by another negligent party, but...
Unfortunately, insurance companies and dishonest individuals will attempt to avoid liability, making it extremely difficult for injured victims to seek the justice that they deserve.
However, if even one person witnessed a personal injury accident, the chances of being awarded a fair settlement significantly improve, especially with the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Here's a look at why a witness testimony is so important in a personal injury case.
Recognize the Importance of Eyewitnesses
After a car accident, there is no guarantee that people who observed the crash will stay to provide a witness testimony to responding officers. Therefore, if physically able, those involved in the personal injury accident should flag down all present witnesses and request official statements from them.
Statements from witnesses who observed the crash are vital, as their unbiased testimony can be used to support the personal injury claim against the other party.
Such eyewitness testimony will significantly improve the chances a victim has of winning a case and obtaining maximum compensation to cover medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other losses.
Types of Witnesses in a Personal Injury Case
Witnesses who may testify in a personal injury case will vary. Generally, the most common type of witness will be any person who watched the event take place. However, other witnesses may testify on a victim's behalf and can include:
- Expert witnesses - specialists educated in certain areas and can testify on their area of expertise, such as medical professionals, accident reconstructionists, etc.
- Lay witnesses - those who saw the accident happen or those who personally know the victim and observed the pain and suffering caused by the accident
- Other witnesses - a summary of the collision that is written by a police officer and documented in an official police report
Court Witnesses: If the Personal Injury Case Goes to Trial
A court witness is an individual who is called to testify or provide evidence in a trial before a judge and jury. They usually possess knowledge or proof that is relevant to the facts of a personal injury case. The provided testimony is one of the most vital forms of evidence.
How Does a Court Witness Testify?
Court witnesses are subpoenaed before going to court. They may also undergo cross-examination from the other party’s legal defense, where they will be required to answer questions about the accident.
During the trial, lay witnesses testify under oath, tell the truth, and explain what was observed. Testifying expert witnesses will be asked to address their findings regarding the accident.
The jury assesses the credibility of the witnesses and provided evidence, which will be considered when an outcome is deliberated.
What Are the Requirements for Being a Court Witness?
In general, a lay witness and an expert witness must be competent to testify. This means that all witnesses have:
- The capacity to understand the questions asked
- The ability to recall the events in question
- The ability to communicate their testimony in a clear manner
Ensure You Speak to an Eyewitness Before It's Too Late
Any person in a personal injury accident that was caused by the negligence of another party may file a claim to recover damages. Negligence is the failure of the defendant to act with reasonable care, ultimately causing the accident.
However, negligence must be proven. Therefore, much evidence will be required, and an eyewitness's account of the accident is one of the most valuable forms of evidence.
An accident victim must immediately get all necessary information from present witnesses. This includes name, phone number, and other important contact information to reference.
Additionally, victims should not just write down a witness testimony, but instead, record each statement with their smartphones. Then, e-mail the recorded audio/video file to themselves. This ensures there is a backup digital copy, avoiding the risk of the video being accidentally deleted or lost.
Recognize the Fallibility of the Human Memory
If your Fresno car accident claim is not settled outside of court, there is the potential for it to be decided before a judge and jury in a trial. Negotiations may continue through court proceedings, so it is possible that a personal injury lawsuit will get to a discovery phase.
The value of eyewitness testimony to your accident will be that much greater if the observer’s words in a court of law are backed up by a witness statement who was present at the accident scene. Furthermore, an eyewitness testifying in a trial will prove more impactful when backed by the facts documented in a police report.
Ensure that recorded statements are collected from witnesses as soon as possible–preferably at the accident scene. The closer to the event a statement is collected, the fresher the memory will be, therefore, the more accurate the account will be, as well.
A Fresno Personal Injury Lawyer’s Role in Preserving Witness Testimony
You don’t have to do all the work to preserve witness testimony on your own. Our Fresno personal injury attorney is here to help. As an example, the use of an affidavit will preserve witness testimony.
The affidavit serves as an essential component of the case. This sworn statement is signed by each witness who saw the accident. Our personal injury attorney in Fresno, CA will also collect a deposition from the witness.
Depositions when witnesses must answer questions about the personal injury accident, while under oath. The session is recorded, and it is an integral component of the case’s official record. Allow a personal injury attorney to help you win your case.
Our Fresno Personal Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident or car accident that was a result of a negligent party, contact Central Valley Accident Lawyers. We can build a winning case and collect the supporting evidence, like witness statements, needed to hold the liable party accountable.
Our Fresno personal injury lawyers today provide no-cost consultations that pave a path toward justice in the form of the financial compensation that you need and deserve.