Hi. I’m Warren WhiteKnight one of the partners here at Bergeron Clifford injury lawyers and this week, on Ask an Injury Lawyer, I’m going to talk a little bit about the role of a witness.
One of the big worries I get from witnesses who we contact regarding a lawsuit whether it’s a car accident or medical malpractice or a long-term disability denial dispute is they don’t want to be involved they don’t want to advocate for or against someone. They don’t want to get in trouble they worry about what people in the community will think and this is a very easy concern to to deal with.
A witness’s duty is to help the court. A witness is not there to help the person who’s injured, they’re not there to help the insurance company, they’re not there to help the police or the doctors. Their job is to tell the truth, give evidence that is relevant and to assist the court which could be a judge or a jury or both together in understanding the case. A lot of people are very comforted by this because it means you don’t have a dog in the fight, you don’t have a bone to chew, you’re there to just give the information you have.
If you know the answer, you give it, if you don’t know the answer you say I don’t know, I’m unsure I don’t remember. Usually also witnesses will have some sort of document to refer to. A lot of people worry about their memory failing over time. Lawsuits take many years – two to three years for quick ones five years more for for longer ones and understandably memories fade over time. So witnesses are usually permitted to refer to relevant documents while giving their evidence. That could be a medical document that can refresh their memory, it could be an insurance document or a police file. Something that will help them pin down this is what happened and when and here’s how and what I remember. Witnesses also play a very important role because most people think of them in terms of a trial but they more often help a case settle than go to a trial. Because when witnesses say what they know, everybody has more facts and when everybody knows the story it’s more likely that a case will settle than go to trial. Nobody wants to get into the witness box if they don’t have to. It can be a little stressful if you end up being a witness in a lawsuit. The lawyer that has called you as a witness will prepare you ahead of time to make you understand the process and calm you down, so that you can make sure you understand what the judge expects from you and how your information should be given to the judge and to the jury.
As always send your questions in to ask an injury lawyer, and thank you from Bergeron Clifford Injury Lawyers.