In the aftermath of a serious personal injury accident in San Antonio, it is normal not to know how to protect your rights. You may not understand what to expect from the civil justice process ahead of you or how to increase your chances of securing financial compensation from an at-fault party. One tip to remember is to obtain the names and contact information of eyewitnesses while still at the scene of your accident. Eyewitnesses may be able to help you prove who caused the accident. Another is to work with a San Antonio personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you hire expert witnesses to strengthen your negligence case.
What Is a Witness?
“Witness” has two different meanings in a personal injury case. The first type of witness is an eyewitness, also called a lay witness. Eyewitnesses are people who were at the scene when your accident or injury happened. They could be fellow customers at the store where you tripped and fell, for example, or pedestrians who saw your car accident happen.
The second type of witness in a personal injury claim is an expert witness. Expert witnesses are hired professionals with special knowledge about the subject at hand. A medical malpractice case, for example, may require the testimony of an expert medical witness. A lawyer might hire an expert witness to clarify the facts of your case to a jury, such as the defendant’s duties of care to you.
How Important Is Witness Testimony?
Both types of witnesses can be important during your personal injury case. Eyewitnesses can be important for offering firsthand information about what happened. An eyewitness can describe how the accident occurred to help reconstructionists and juries understand its key factors. An accident reconstructionist can use details from the eyewitnesses to piece together the mechanics of the accident and who was at fault. This could ultimately help you prove your case against a defendant.
An expert witness can help a case by providing special knowledge that a jury needs to fully understand the elements of a case. If you are claiming that an improperly constructed scaffold collapsed and caused your injuries, for example, an engineer as your expert witness could explain to a jury exactly how the worker in question should have built the scaffold, as well as testify as to whether he or she believes the defendant breached a duty of care owed to you. An expert witness will have knowledge of a particular field that is central to your personal injury case.
Which Type of Witness Is More Valuable?
In general, testimony from an expert witness is more useful than information from a lay witness during an injury claim. Eyewitnesses are only human – they have bad memories and fuzzy recollections that may affect their accounts of an accident. Eyewitnesses are nonexperts who may be unreliable in their retellings of an accident. Two different eyewitnesses, for example, may have opposing stories about what happened. While an eyewitness can provide valuable information, the other side of the case may cast doubts on the reliability and accuracy of a lay witness’s statements. If the eyewitness is someone related to you, this could also pose problems, as the defendant’s attorney may allege that the witness is too close to the victim and therefore biased or unreliable.
An expert witness, on the other hand, has special experience or training that establishes him or her as an extremely reliable source of information. The jury can take information from an expert witness as the accepted rule, standard or school of thought in the expert’s industry. An expert witness could make or break your personal injury case. This is why it is important to work with a personal injury attorney during your accident claim. An attorney will have connections to expert witnesses in the field relevant to your claim. Your lawyer can help you gather a strong roster of both lay witnesses and expert witnesses to help you win your case.