Can a Personal Injury Witness Be Forced to Testify?

Witness testimony can sometimes be very important in helping prove negligence in an injury case. However, key witnesses in some cases may not want to testify for a variety of reasons.

Fortunately, our Sacramento-area personal injury lawyers may be able to help you gather witness statements and other necessary evidence to help prove your case. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.

There are no upfront fees, and we only get paid if you do.

Can an Accident Witness Be Forced to Comply with a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a court order demanding that a person or entity testify as a witness in a designated place and time. Subpoenas are usually issued to witnesses who need to appear at a deposition, trial or hearing. These court orders may also be issued to produce documents or other tangible objects in a legal proceeding.

Witnesses who agree to testify in a case are always issued a subpoena, but those who do not initially agree to testify may also be issued one in some cases. If the witness fails to comply with a served subpoena, he or she may be held in contempt of court, which could lead to legal trouble. This means witnesses can be compelled by a court order to testify.

Are There Exceptions to Subpoenas?

There are limited exceptions when a person who is issued a subpoena may be legally exempt from repercussions if he or she does not comply with a subpoena.

If the person who is being served the subpoena never receives it, he or she may not be required to testify. Subpoenas are served in person, so the issue of it being lost in the mail cannot be used as an excuse.

Another exemption for complying with a subpoena is if the testimony would create an undue burden for the witness. That said, there are certain steps that can be taken to avoid negatively impacting the life of a person who would testify in an injury case. This includes using someone else’s testimony or other evidence to bolster your claim.

Lastly, witnesses must not be forced to testify about protected information and must be given sufficient notice of the date they are required to appear in court, a deposition or at a hearing.

How Do Attorneys Handle Reluctant Witnesses?

It is important to keep in mind that witnesses who agree to testify in any kind of case are taking time out of their own lives to do so, and sometimes a witness may be reluctant to testify for fear of repercussions from a liable party or other reasons. Therefore, forcing a witness to comply with a subpoena to testify in a case may not always be the best move.

Instead, attorneys often employ strategies for dealing with reluctant witnesses, especially key witnesses, to try to get them to voluntarily testify.

Remember that witnesses are people with concerns for their own lives, which makes it important to have an attorney who knows how to identify with the witness and discuss his or her hesitancy to provide testimony. Sometimes scheduling is the issue, so flexibility may be the best strategy.

Overall, it is important to listen and understand a witness’ concerns for not wanting to testify and make the effort to address those issues in a manner that will make the witness feel more comfortable and help your case.

Is a Subpoena Always Necessary?

If your case makes it to the point of deposing witnesses, a subpoena may be a normal part of the legal procedure. However, if you manage to negotiate a fair settlement without the need to file a lawsuit, you may never need to file a subpoena to potential witnesses.

Instead, your attorney is likely to have your witnesses sign affidavits about what they witnessed.

We Are Prepared to Help. Call Today

Our attorneys understand the importance of witness testimony for accident claims, especially when fault is not easily determined. Getting a witness to agree to testify in an injury case may require experience.

Fortunately, our attorneys have been helping injury victims for decades and are prepared to help you.

We offer a free consultation and there are no fees while we work on your case.

Call 916-777-7777 today.