Even though a personal injury lawsuit might seem easy and straightforward, the process can have a number of complications. If you mishandle those issues, then your claim could end up recovering far less than you hoped, or your claim might be denied altogether. If you want to avoid that from happening to you, then you need to know the best ways to position your claim for success. One way to do that is to focus on witness statements.
What is a witness statement?
Witnesses might make statements to you after your accident, but these aren’t the kind of witness statements we’re talking about. Sure, those verbal accounts can be helpful, but what you really want is something in writing that you can take into your settlement negotiations or your trial. Therefore, the most powerful witness statements are those that are detailed and recorded in some fashion.
How can you assess the strength of a witness’s statement?
Not all witness statements are strong. Therefore, if you want to obtain and present one that strongly supports your case, then you’ll want to consider the following factors:
- The amount of detail within the witness statement.
- The witness’s relationship to the accident in question.
- The witness’s reputation and credibility.
- The objectivity with which the statement reads.
- Whether the statement is corroborated by other evidence.
- The existence or absence of any bias.
- The impact that the statement has on the judge or jury’s emotional response.
How witness statements are attacked
A well thought out and detailed witness statement can certainly help strengthen your case, but it might not be the slam dunk that you think it is given that there can be several ways that the statement comes under attack. Here are some strategies that you’ll need to anticipate going into your personal injury case:
- Show inconsistencies: Many witnesses are deposed before taking the witness stand at trial. If the testimony they give at a deposition differs from that in their written statement or at trial, then the defense will be sure to use those inconsistencies to attack the witness’s credibility.
- Present expert testimony: Another way the defense might try to discredit your witness is to use expert testimony. That expert might testify that the witness couldn’t possibly have seen the accident as they describe, which can leave you in a challenging position. When this happens, you need to be prepared to effectively cross-examine that expert and perhaps even present expert testimony of your own.
- Put forth contradictory testimony: Two witnesses can have entirely different accounts of how an accident unfolded. This puts the matter directly in the hands of the jury, who must determine which witness to believe. So, if the defense is going to present evidence from a contradicting witness, you need to be ready to counter it with either physical evidence that supports your take on the events or find ways to diminish the reliability of the defense witness’s testimony.
Learn how to confidently navigate your personal injury case
There are a lot of ways that a personal injury case can go sideways. If that happens in your case, then your recovery and your future are jeopardized. To avoid that from happening to you, you need to figure out how to build the strongest case possible.
Fortunately, you can find a lot of information on our website and elsewhere to more fully educate yourself on the personal injury claims process, settlement negotiation, and litigation. Hopefully then you can confidently make the case decisions that are right for you and that position you for success.