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What is a Witness?

Most personal injury claims will make use of one or more witnesses. A witness, or eyewitness, is anybody who has firsthand information about the circumstances of a case.

This could range from a witness who watched an automobile accident to an employee of a corporation who observed a construction accident. The information that witnesses supply is called testimony. In many cases, many witnesses will be asked to testify.

Witnesses can be important whether or not a case goes to trial. Your lawyer will contact any possible witnesses early in the claims process. They may utilize an informal technique of asking questions and documenting the replies to understand what the witness would say in a trial. Or, they may seek a formal deposition, establishing an official record so both sides can utilize the witness’s comments.

Witnesses who are not likely to come forward with information on their own, such as a pharmaceutical company employee in a case involving defective medication, are often deposed by the attorney.

Often, the information acquired from witnesses is enough to build compelling proof and convince the opposing side to settle and not go to trial. If not, witnesses will have to testify in open court, where both sides can ask them questions called “examinations.”

What Kinds of Witnesses Are Most Common in Personal Injury Cases?

Many types of witnesses are utilized in personal injury cases. These can include:

  • Someone who witnessed an accident and can explain what happened
  • The person who was accountable for safety procedures in a scenario, like a supervisor in a workplace accident
  • The doctor who examined and diagnosed an accident victim
  • Executives of a corporation that caused an accident, such as a product liability case
  • Employees of a company
  • Law enforcement who went to the scene of an accident and filled out an accident report

Witnesses can be almost anyone as long as they know something about the facts of the case. It’s crucial that a witness has direct, firsthand knowledge and doesn’t merely speculate.

Sometimes, your lawyer will call an expert witness. Expert witnesses have no relation to the case. Instead, they give knowledge and help the jury understand complex scientific or medical ideas linked to the claim.

What if a Witness Doesn't Want to Testify?

A witness can’t avoid giving testimony. Your attorney can request a subpoena from the judge to call a witness to testify. A subpoena is a legal summons to attend and testify in court. Not only must they appear, but they must also answer specific questions from both attorneys. The judge can declare them in contempt of court if they don’t show up or refuse to answer questions.

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