The Importance of Witness Testimony in a Personal Injury Case
One of the cornerstones of the United States criminal justice system is the principle that any person is innocent until proven guilty. The tool by which guilt is proven is evidence — and a powerful piece of evidence is witness testimony.
In fact, witness testimony is so effective in convincing a judge or a court that researchers determined that 52% of wrongful convictions resulted from eyewitness testimonies.
If they work so well for the wrong purposes, imagine their convincing power if you have a truthful case with more solid evidence.
Keep reading to learn how witness testimony in personal injury cases works! Our team of lawyers are experts in personal injury witness testimony Austin, Texas.
Explanation of Witness Testimony in a Personal Injury Case
To ensure the court gives your case a favorable verdict, you need compelling evidence. And the witness statement in a personal injury claim case is a crucial source of evidence in personal injury cases.
Chances are very low that the liable party will admit fault. If it weren’t for witnesses, trials would always end up in one person’s word against the other. So, the witness testimony is another person confirming your side of the story, further proving that you’re telling the truth.
Why Are Witness Statements So Important?
In most cases, the other party will deny your accusations and try to frame you as liable. This is because it’s in their best interest not to pay you for your damages, or if he needs to pay, they want to pay as little as possible.
Someone who witnessed the accident can give the court an unbiased version of the story, which can help the court identify who was at fault for the situation.
Who Can Be Your Witness?
Keep in mind that every person is competent to be a witness. However, the court has the authority to decide if a witness is competent to testify.
Competency is defined by the ability of the witness to give the judge information in a useful manner. Then, it will be the job of the judge and the court to determine how credible the testimony is and how much weight should be given.
You can use three types of witnesses to testify on your behalf:
- Eyewitness: These are people who have observed the facts with their own eyes. They don’t necessarily need to be present at the exact moment the injury happened. Those who arrived at the scene afterward are also considered eyewitnesses. The witness also doesn’t need to be absolutely certain about what happened; it’s okay if they can’t remember a couple of details.
- Expert witness: To qualify as an expert, the witness must possess specialized information on the topic that is derived from knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education. For example, a doctor can testify that you need to be away from work for some time because of the injuries. And a psychologist can testify that the accident caused emotional damage to your mental health.
- Familiar witness: Those who are close to you can testify about how the injury has impacted your day-to-day life.
How Witnesses Can Strengthen a Personal Injury Case
You can take advantage of any evidence that can help your case. The law considers evidence as anything that makes a fact more or less probable. Witnesses are crucial for confirming your version of the facts.
Suppose you got hit by a car because the driver was looking at his cell phone. As a result of this accident, you broke your leg and had to be away from work for a few months. When the police appeared at the scene, the other driver was not there anymore, and no camera managed to capture the accident.
In this case, you could use the testimony of some of the people who were present to attest that the driver was looking at his phone. Otherwise, it would be his word against yours. You can also invite the doctor who treated your leg to testify that you had to be away from work because of your injury.
Types of Personal Injury Cases That Benefit From Witness Testimony
In this section, we detail all the cases in which you can benefit from a witness statement in a personal injury claim case.
To determine how a car accident happens, you can use eyewitnesses and expert witnesses. Eyewitnesses will tell who was at fault for the accident. Maybe the driver ran the red light, or a pedestrian crossed the street without looking.
An expert witness is someone, like an impact analyst or biomechanics expert, who can determine exactly how an accident happened based on the evidence available.
Slips and falls are very similar to car accidents. You can use eyewitnesses and expert witnesses. Expert witnesses, in this case, include human factor experts.
In the case of medical malpractice, you can use the testimony of people close to you since they can tell how the malpractice affected your daily life.
However, expert witnesses are always better. Medical malpractice experts include doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge to testify about the medical standard of care.
Eyewitnesses are critical in the case of workplace accidents. They will tell the judge the chain of events and what you were doing at the moment of the accident. Other workers can also be great witnesses since they can talk about the working conditions.
Sourcing a Witness for Your Personal Injury Case
How to Approach Witnesses
Approach them by introducing yourself and asking if they are willing to talk about what they saw. You don’t want to be demanding, especially since some people may not feel comfortable giving a statement.
What To Do if a Witness Refuses to Talk
Keep in mind that you always need to be polite. Never try to pressure or coerce them into helping you. Some people have busy lives and will not want to get involved in a lawsuit.
If they refuse to talk, leave them alone. The last thing you want is a witness statement in a personal injury claim case against you. Remember that their testimony can be used as a key piece of evidence for either party, and you don’t want it to be negative against you if you pressure them into giving a statement.
As a last resource, you have the right to request a subpoena from the court. A subpoena is a written order from the judge that requests the person to appear in court.
What To Do If a Witness Agrees to Talk
If they are willing to talk about what they saw, ask if you can write it on your phone or record it as an audio. If the testimony is in written form, you also need to ask if you can send it to them so they can sign it.
It’s also good to ask for the witness’s phone number. This is important because you may need to contact them again in the future to confirm the testimony or to have them testify in court.
What Rights Does the Witness Have?
The law secures different rights for witnesses, such as:
- The right to refuse to make their phone number available
- The right to reject meetings
- The right not to take part in a recorded interview
- The right not to give a written statement
What Claims Can a Witness Make?
If you can attain reliable witness testimony, here are a few different ways a personal injury witness claim can help you.
Supporting Claims of Innocence
If you are getting sued, witnesses can help you prove your innocence. For example, someone may sue you and say that the accident was caused by you driving above the speed limit. However, a witness can testify that the accident actually happened because a pedestrian crossed the street without looking.
Supporting Claims of Guilt
It can help you prove that the other person is guilty. For example, a witness can testify that the accident happened because the driver was looking at his phone.
Support or Discredit Claims of Injury
If you broke your leg and could not move after the accident, the witnesses can testify about it. However, if you were walking around, telling everyone you were fine, the witness testimony can discredit you if you claim a severe injury later on.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You
If you want to file a personal injury case, contacting a lawyer is your most important step. The lawyer will help you identify and contact all the relevant witnesses that can help your case. At Lee, Gober & Reyna Law Firm, we have extensive experience with personal injury witness testimony in Austin, Texas.