In most personal injury lawsuits, one of the essential elements available to a plaintiff and their legal team is witnesses’ testimonies.
A bystander witness is someone who saw the accident take place and can provide reliable information about what happened. Witnesses aren’t involved with either party in the lawsuit but objective bystanders who can shed light on what happened.
Bystander Witness Testimony and Its Importance to Your Case
Witnesses are crucial in personal injury lawsuits because they corroborate the victim’s event account. Witnesses are often easy to locate, especially in this day and age of social media. A bystander may have recorded the incident on a cell phone and can attest to what happened. Bystander testimony is (or should be) unbiased and can help support the plaintiff’s story.
Bystanders can provide valuable information. They may have seen the accident happen and may have seen the injured party afterward. As a result, bystanders are often better able to determine who was at fault. If they were present when the accident occurred, they may have heard the victim’s statement and could confirm its accuracy. Bystanders can also be very valuable to a personal injury lawsuit because they may have a different point of view than the victim.
We all know and hope that accidents are captured on video. This way, things would be clear as daylight, and the justice system would not waste time and money with neverending claims and trials. Evidently, using video surveillance can be extremely persuasive in proving negligence, and even if the accident did not lead to injury, security cameras might tell a story favorable to the plaintiff.
But do we always have access to such evidence? Unfortunately, no. The quality and preservation of evidence are crucial to the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit. Insufficient evidence can lead to lower settlement amounts or jury awards, or even the loss of the case altogether.
Here is when truthful and unbreakable witness testimony comes into play.
However, remember that testimony from witnesses can be unreliable, and you should consider retaining an attorney to document any evidence available.
According to expert personal injury attorneys at https://yoshalawfirm.com/, witnesses can build and strengthen a case, or they can break it on the spot. So whether you are involved in a fender bender or a serious work accident, you need witnesses’ testimonies to help your attorney gain the compensation you deserve. For a successful personal injury lawsuit, it is critical to gather strong evidence. Insurance adjusters and the at-fault party’s lawyers often challenge accident victims’ accounts, so your witnesses must collect as much proof and facts as possible, further strengthened by your witnesses. Your attorneys can guide you through the importance of collecting witness statements to support your claim.
Preserving witnesses’ statements is paramount because they can win your case. Having a witness who consistently tells the truth can cast doubt on the testimony of the party at fault.
To summarize, witnesses are crucial to your case because:
- They provide unbiased details regarding the incident. Witnesses can identify the person or vehicle involved in the crash (for instance, in a hit-and-run). They can also describe what happened before and after the accident (the extent of your injuries, what happened after, who else was there, etc.).
- Witnesses can provide details otherwise unavailable from other sources. For example, in a place with little camera surveillance, a witness can testify regarding what happened, identify the at-fault party, confirm a car’s plate number, describe the road conditions, etc.
- In complex injury cases where there could be more than one party at fault, witnesses can help the plaintiff and other parties involved in the lawsuit to get to the bottom of things. For instance, the plaintiff sues the truck driver for injuries in truck accidents. However, it may not have been the driver’s fault. Instead, the negligent party may have been the trucking company or truck parts manufacturer. In such cases, the trucking company can blame the driver, too, so that they don’t admit their negligence or pay for anything. Witnesses can corroborate either party’s story and help the court learn the truth.
- In states with comparative fault systems, witnesses can lean the balance to one party or the other, changing the outcome of a settlement negotiation or trial completely.
How Lawyers Manage Bystander Witnesses and Their Testimonies
In personal injury lawsuits, attorneys help preserve witness testimony by interviewing them as soon as possible after the accident. These interviews are (or should be) the most thorough because witnesses are most likely to recall details as they have the event fresh in their minds. Nevertheless, if the attorney discovers that a witness has detrimental information for the plaintiff, the lawyer might avoid deposing them, hoping their testimony will never reach the courtroom. On the other hand, some attorneys depose witnesses whose testimonies are damaging to the client to avoid surprises at the negotiation table or in court.
You can conduct these interviews yourself or use voice or video recording devices to capture the interview and save a copy. If the witnesses are not available immediately, contact your attorney for help contacting them. The lawyer can also assist you in contacting witnesses in the days following the accident.
Keeping notes of witnesses’ names and roles in the incident is also helpful for further discussions and communications regarding the lawsuit.
Your attorney will most likely distinguish between witnesses telling the truth and those embellishing their stories. When they think your witness may be denying or modifying the truth, they will keep their names and contact information for further interviews with the investigators. In an ideal world, witnesses should not fabricate a story for your sake, but many do. If the opposing party gets wind of this, your case may suffer tremendously. For this reason, effective witness preparation is vital in civil and criminal cases.
Why Should You Obtain Witnesses’ Testimonies As Soon As Possible after the Incident?
When an accident happens, the eyewitnesses sign a sworn statement called an affidavit. These statements can be crucial to a personal injury lawsuit. But even though witness testimony is extremely important in any legal proceeding, it’s even more so in injury cases because there may be a long time between the incident and the trial. Also, a witness may be displaced from the state where the accident occurred.
Given that you have a statute of limitations to keep an eye on, gathering and deposing witnesses fast is vital for your case’s success.
A Few Words about Expert Witnesses
In personal injury cases, an expert witness is particularly important. These professionals have no direct experience with the accident or injury but have specialized knowledge of evaluating the circumstances surrounding an accident. As a result, they play a major role in a courtroom, pointing out what might have been avoided or misunderstood and helping attorneys determine the true extent of the damage.
Expert witnesses provide important information that can help the jury understand what happened. They have specialized knowledge of the subject matter and may even develop models to use in court. They must apply these principles to the facts of the case.
They may also be called upon in personal injury lawsuits for their expertise in a particular field. For example, first responders often reconstruct the scene of an accident by using their knowledge and skills from other similar incidents.
An attorney may consult expert witnesses to help the court understand a specific aspect of an accident or injury. Because they have no stake in the outcome, they are unlikely to put themselves and their reputation at risk. These professionals’ objective viewpoints and in-depth knowledge make them an excellent resource for injury victims. While an attorney may not recommend an expert witness, they are often necessary for complex cases.
Witness testimonies can be compelling in a personal injury lawsuit. It is thus essential to prepare witnesses thoroughly to correctly convey important information that may lead to a successful outcome in the case. Accordingly, your attorney will contact the witnesses willing to testify on your behalf, depose them, and prepare them for court.