What Steps Can Attorneys Take to Preserve Witness Testimony?

witness swearing in at court Witness testimony can be one of the most important aspects of a personal injury case. That is why it is vital for victims and their attorneys to take steps to help preserve witness testimony, as it could get lost as time passes.

There are certain steps attorneys can take to preserve witness statements, and we discuss those below. If you have questions about seeking compensation after an accident, call our Sacramento car crash lawyers today to discuss your claim during a free consultation.

Why is Preserving Witness Testimony Important?

Preserving the statement of a witness is important because it makes that statement part of the official record in your case for compensation.

The preservation of these statements is necessary to distinguish between witnesses who are telling the truth and being consistent in their statements and those who may be embellishing a story. A consistent story from a witness who backs up your claim could help cast doubt on the testimony of a witness who backs up the at-fault party’s claims, especially if it appears the witness for the at-fault party is not being entirely honest.

Additionally, if too much time has passed between the date of the accident and the date of a deposition or trial, the witness may not remember important details. Preservation of witness testimony could also be beneficial if there is a witness who will not be available on the date of the trial or at a deposition.

How is Witness Testimony Preserved from the Beginning of a Case?

Because it is important to preserve a witness’s testimony from the beginning of a case, it is also important to understand the steps your attorney can take to do this and how you can help.

First, you can get a person’s statement about what he or she witnessed at the scene of the accident (if it is safe to do so and you are physically capable) in a variety of ways, including:

  • Asking a witness to provide his or her testimony to the police at the scene of the crash
  • Asking the witness to provide a recorded statement (most smartphones today have audio recording capabilities)
  • Asking the witness to write down what he or she saw (whether on a physical or digital document)

If you get a witness to provide you a statement, whether in writing or via a recording, your attorney can get him or her to sign a sworn statement, called an affidavit, to make an official statement for the record on what he or she witnessed.

In case you are unable to get a statement, it is important to at least try and get the witness’s contact information so your attorney may contact them in the future to ask for an official statement.

How is Witness Testimony Preserved Through Discovery?

Remember that the discovery process of a case does not begin until a lawsuit is filed and given the green light to proceed. As part of the process, each party to a lawsuit begins to gather information from the opposing party to help build their case.

One aspect of the discovery process is getting a deposition from the witnesses who are going to testify on your behalf. Getting a deposition may have two benefits for your case:

  1. If a witness testifying on behalf of the at-fault party lied during a deposition or is lying in court, a variation from the story told in either situation could be used to prove the witness is not a credible one.
  2. Depositions may be used in cases when a witness cannot be at a trial because he or she is either out of the country, too injured to be there, unwilling to testify in open court for fear of his or her safety, or has died.

In cases when the witness to an accident was also injured in the crash and is in serious or critical condition, your attorney may have the option to ask the court to expedite the discovery process so the witness can be deposed sooner rather than later to preserve testimony. However, these exceptions are rare.

Call an Experienced Attorney Today

If you were injured in an accident caused by another’s negligent actions, you may be eligible for compensation if you can prove that negligence.

Our experienced attorneys are prepared to help you build a strong case for compensation by gathering evidence, which may include statements from witnesses who can back up you claim.

Call 916-777-7777 to schedule a free consultation.