One of the most commonly overlooked investigation methods, which can greatly help strengthen your personal injury case, is interviewing witnesses in the early stages of an attorney’s representation of your interests. Whether it is an eye witness at the scent who has personal, first hand knowledge of how a car accident occurred, or a witness who heard another person admit to fault in your case, securing the testimony of witnesses can make or break your case.
In many personal injury claims, fault will be disputed. Each person will blame the other person for the accident or incident. It will be the word of one person against another. In a car accident, except for rear end collision cases where fault is typically attributed to the driver who was in the rear, each driver will usually point the finger at the other driver and claim that the other driver was partially or fully at fault for causing the accident. Witnesses who have first-hand knowledge of facts that support your personal injury claim, can help resolve these disputes and corroborate your position.
While you can certainly sit back and wait to see if the case proceeds to court and then conduct lawsuit discovery to obtain witness statements in anticipation of trial, you can usually expect to receive much more accurate witness statements shortly after an accident. If your personal injury lawyer takes the statement of a witness during the days after an accident, the witness is likely to have a much clearer recollection of how the accident occurred. The testimony of the witness will be much more accurate and thus more useful if the case goes to trial.
Absent the filing of a lawsuit and use of a subpoena, witnesses are under no obligation to speak to your injury attorney and may not want to get involved with a personal injury claim. But if your injury lawyer is tactful and persistent, most witnesses will prove statements information before the need for the issuance of a subpoena. Even if a witness is being evasive, the mere threat of issuance of a subpoena to testify under oath at a deposition is usually enough to convince a witness to informally provide a witness statement.
Obtaining witness statements can also help your personal injury attorney obtain a favorable settlement of your claim, by including the witness statements in the demand package sent to the insurance company settlement negotiations are commenced. Insurance companies will evaluate the witness statements and their perceived effect on a judge or jury. If the statements are likely to result in the judge or jury being more sympathetic with your position and award you a greater amount of monetary compensation, the insurance company will take this into account in making an offer of settlement to resolve your claim. This may foster a more favorable settlement of your claim.