You might not need witness statements to prove your claim and recover compensation for your damages. However, there are cases in which statements from witnesses are critical to establishing what happened.
The trouble is some witnesses are reluctant to testify. They may be uncomfortable with the idea and they also do not gain anything from providing their testimony. Even though they are helping you out, this may not be enough motivation for them to agree to do it.
Your attorney may often be able to convince a witness to testify by talking to them and addressing any concerns they may have about what is expected of them. However, if talking to a witness is not effective, a Lafayette car accident lawyer may decide it is necessary to issue a subpoena, requiring a witness to testify.
Below, we discuss how witnesses can help strengthen a case and what you can do if a witness does not want to testify. Our services come with no upfront costs, and the initial legal consultation is free of charge.
Call Galloway Jefcoat to schedule your free legal consultation: (337) 984-8020.
Why You May Need a Witness to Testify
Many car crash cases are relatively straightforward. Your medical records, the police report and the damage to your vehicle may often be all that is needed to prove your case. Even though insurance companies are looking to deny or devalue as many claims as they can, after negotiating they often agree to pay victims fair compensation.
For example, claims for rear-end crashes are often straightforward, as the rear driver is often clearly at fault.
However, claims are not always straightforward, such as those involving catastrophic injuries or where fault is contested by the insurance company. Even if you have strong evidence, the insurance company may try to underpay your claim.
In these types of situations, statements from witnesses may be needed to back up your account of the crash and other evidence your lawyer has gathered. The insurance company may still not agree to settle, and your lawyer may then need to file a lawsuit. If your case ends up going to trial, statements from credible witnesses often carry a lot of weight with members of the jury.
Witness statements can also be used to fill in any gaps in your account or the other driver’s account of the crash. Sometimes people involved in collisions may suffer from memory loss because of a brain injury or due to the trauma of the crash itself.
Witnesses may have had a better vantage point than either one of the drivers involved in the crash. This can lend a lot of credibility to the witness’ statements.
Getting Witnesses for a Car Accident Case
Crash victims may talk to witnesses at the scene and obtain their contact information. If lawyers are contacted quickly after a crash, they can visit the scene and talk to witnesses.
If you obtained contact information from any witnesses, be sure to provide those details to your attorney. Your lawyer will need to talk to witnesses to determine whether their statements might strengthen your claim. For instance, if a witness saw the at-fault driver looking down at his or her smartphone before colliding with another vehicle, that testimony may benefit your claim.
Having a third party explain what happened can be critical when it is your word against another driver’s. This is particularly true when the third party has no connection to either driver and is not benefitting from providing testimony.
What Happens if the Witness Does Not Want to Cooperate?
Sometimes witnesses do not want to take part in a claim. They may be too busy to provide testimony. They may fear retaliation for providing testimony or be concerned about their privacy. Witnesses may also feel anxious about going into a courtroom to testify.
If your lawyer determines a witness’ testimony would help your claim, but the witness is reluctant to testify, he or she talk to the person about their concerns. For example, your lawyer could explain that the at-fault party and/or insurance company would face legal consequences for retaliating against a witness. Your lawyer could also explain how he or she can prepare the witness for the courtroom, which could help a witness to feel more comfortable with the idea.
While some witnesses may change their minds about testifying after talking to an experienced attorney, others may not. If that happens, it may be possible to compel the witness to testify.
What You Should Know About Subpoenaing a Witness
It may be possible to subpoena a witness to testify in your case. A subpoena is an order from a court for someone to testify in court on a certain date.
Typically, if you receive a subpoena you must comply with it. There are exceptions when someone might not be required to comply with a subpoena. For example, if a witness can claim an undue burden, he or she might not be required to comply with a subpoena.
State law says witnesses who reside or are employed in the state can be required to testify wherever the hearing or trial is taking place in the state. If a witness does not live or reside in the state, he or she may be able to avoid complying with a subpoena by saying he or she lives too far away.
Witnesses might also be able to get out of a subpoena by claiming they were not given enough time to comply with it.
Have You Been Injured in a Collision? Call Galloway Jefcoat
Witness testimony could be critical to the success of your case. However, an experienced lawyer needs to talk to the witness to make this determination.
Galloway Jefcoat has been working with crash victims in Louisiana for many years. We know how to build a robust case as we pursue full compensation for your damages.
We work on contingency, which means we do not charge any upfront fees.
Free initial consultation. Contact us at: (337) 984-8020.