When a person suffers a serious injury due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions, they shouldn’t be left responsible for the financial damages as well as dealing with the pain and suffering related to the injury. A personal injury claim helps the injured victim gain compensation for their damages—or the economic and non-economic consequences of an injury caused by an at-fault party.
In personal injury cases, the injury victim has the burden of proving the negligent party’s liability through a “preponderance of the evidence.” Eyewitnesses often provide critical evidence through their testimony. An eyewitness must have first-hand knowledge of the events they testify about in court, otherwise, the court considers their testimony “hearsay.”
Types of Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases often rely on several types of witness testimony. Common witnesses used in personal injury cases include the following two types:
Eyewitnesses or Lay witnesses
Lay witnesses may be any eyewitness able to testify due to their personal knowledge of the people, events, or any details relevant to the case while expert witnesses are those who have specialized knowledge of one or more aspects of the case. Both types of witnesses can be crucial to a personal injury case to prove liability or to demonstrate the physical and financial impacts of an injury on the victim.
Eye Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases
Lay witnesses are not experts or specialists in any areas relevant to the case but instead offer personal testimony pertinent to the injury victim’s claim. Even if the lay witness is a specialist in their field, they aren’t called into the case to testify within their area of expertise, but instead on what they personally know about the case as an eyewitness. Common lay witnesses in personal injury cases include the following:
Eyewitnesses to the accident: these witnesses offer key testimony with first-hand accounts of how the accident occurred. The eyewitness in a personal injury case may be a family member or friend of the injury victim who was with them when they experienced the injury, or a stranger who happened to be present at the scene
Spouses, family members and close friends: those close to the injury victim may offer relevant testimony about the impacts of the injury on the victim’s daily life
Employers, supervisors, and coworkers: this type of eyewitness provides testimony about how the injury affects the victim’s professional life or ability to return to work at their previous capacity or at all
The defendant in the case: defendants in personal injury cases testify to their side of the story of the injury’s occurrence; for instance, the other driver in a car accident injury case or the owner of a store or restaurant in a slip-and-fall accident case
Law enforcement officers: when law enforcement officers arrive on the scene of an accident or an injury resulting from criminal violence, they may be called upon to testify about what they observed as eyewitnesses arriving at the scene
When a New Haven personal injury attorney investigates the circumstances of the injury and the physical and financial impacts of the injury on an injured client, they typically identify all relevant eyewitnesses to support the case as well as expert witnesses to provide information into technical or medical aspects of the case. In most cases, the injury victims themselves are key eyewitnesses to the injury and provide first-hand testimony about the events leading up to the injury, the injury itself, and the impact of the injury on their lives, daily routine, and financial situation.