When you or a loved one has been harmed or injured in an accident or incident, you have recourse of which you should to be aware. At the time of the injury or incident, emotions are high and those involved may be acting on automatic pilot. Important information may go unnoticed or be forgotten. Being aware of those things and people that will help you in a claim for damages will greatly increase your odds for a satisfactory resolution.
You will need proof of how the injuries were incurred as a result of the accident, as well as evidence surrounding the circumstances. You also need to show who is liable and account for the damages sustained as a result of the occurrence. In addition, you will need witnesses. The latter is the scope of this article.
First Things First
The most important thing in the aftermath of a car accident or situation where physical harm has occurred is to ensure that nothing is done to exacerbate the injuries that have been inflicted. The first priority is to get medical attention to the scene as quickly as possible. Your health and well-being, and that of others involved, take precedence over everything else in the immediate situation. Your claim for damages could be put at risk if you add to your injuries or make them worse by trying to gather statements. However, if you or another person is physically able while waiting for the police to arrive, take advantage of that time to gather information from witnesses.
Witnesses for Personal Injury Claim
One of the most important aspects of settling a personal injury claim is having access to reliable witnesses to the accident or incident. Witnesses provide corroboration and support of the victim’s account of the case.
In today’s world of social media, depending on the conditions of the occurrence, it may actually be easy to find witnesses. In some situations, onlookers may have recorded the incident on a cell phone. Bystanders are usually unbiased in their reporting of the situation if they have no relationship with the parties involved. This emotional distance from the situation can be favorable to you.
Incident and Lay Witnesses
Those who actually were present and saw the accident or incident occur are called “incident witnesses.” If at all possible, gather contact information of the incident witnesses while still at the scene. These first-hand witnesses are the ones you will want to get statements from as soon as possible after the event. The sooner you gather their statements the better. Memories fade with time and small but important details may be left out as the days pass. Ideally as much information as possible about what happened will be available for review of the case.
Family, friends and colleagues who are willing to make statements on your behalf are referred to as “lay witnesses.” These people provide information regarding the impact that injuries have made on your life. This includes your ability to function at work, as well as at home and in general. Lay witnesses provide crucial context for establishing how severely the injuries have altered your well-being. The information that lay witnesses furnish often supports that of the “expert witness,” which is covered in the next section.
The “Expert Witness”
Personal injury cases may require the testimony of an “expert witness.” The expert witness is highly proficient in his or her particular field of expertise. If a personal injury case goes to trial, having expert witnesses is vital. The expert witness provides a bridge between difficult to understand concepts and the comprehension of the jury.
Expert witnesses can give meaning and context to certain aspects of the case that would otherwise be unavailable. One of the more common situations in which an expert witness is called upon, is in which a case of malpractice is being tried. An expert in the discipline of the pertinent medical field presents valuable evidence in favor of the plaintiff. This testimony may show how the situation in question deviated from acceptable medical practice or how the offending practitioner was negligent in some way.
Effective Use of Witnesses
One does not just gather witnesses together and assume that because these people saw what happened, knew the people involved or have expertise in a particular field the case will automatically be won. Witnesses need to be vetted or screened so that their testimony does not undermine the case. Your lawyer takes on the lion’s share of ensuring that your witnesses are appropriate for your case. You need people that have credibility. If the case goes to trial you will want people supporting you who can withstand the pressure of cross examination. It is your lawyer’s job to ensure that your case is supported by credible, capable witnesses.
Personal injury cases require a certain amount of finesse, compassion and perseverance. If you find yourself in a situation where you need a personal injury lawyer, Matthew Lopez Law, PLLC is the law firm you may want to consider contacting first. We put all our resources at your disposal to produce the best outcome. We will make sure your witnesses will be assets to your case and not liabilities. For high quality legal assistance with your best interests as the top priority, choose Matthew Lopez Law, PLLC.