Personal Injury 101: Types of Witnesses

Types of Witnesses

When pursuing a personal injury claim after an accident, witnesses can help you prove your case and corroborate your claims, supporting elements of causation, liability and damages.

As the injured party bringing a claim, it is the responsibility of you and your legal team to prove that the accident caused your injuries and that you deserve to be compensated. One of the elements that can help corroborate your claim is witness testimony.

Lay and Incident Witnesses

There are different types of witnesses that your legal team may want to talk with and call to testify, if needed. The first type of witness is what is referred to as Lay and Incident Witnesses.

Lay and incident witnesses have no specific expertise associated with your claim. These are:

  • People who witnessed the accident first-hand
  • Friends or family who have seen first-hand how your injuries from the accident have affected you day-to-day

This witness testimony can help prove and corroborate your claim.

Expert Witnesses

Another type of witness is the “expert.” This is exactly what it sounds like – they are experts in a specific field such as engineering, medical, manufacturing and more.

Consulting experts are ones who help explain and clarify key issues. They provide information that can help explain complex issues to you and your legal team rather than testify in open court.

Testifying experts are those who actually testify in open court. Expertise in their area along with being a skilled and effective communicator is required.

Depending on your situation, your lawyer will determine what types of experts may be needed, including:

Medical Expert WitnessMedical Experts may be used to testify about your specific injuries; your progress, recovery options and treatment; how your injuries affect your quality of life and whether it is temporary or permanent.

Mental Health Experts may be used to help explain how the accident and/or your injuries have affected you mentally or emotionally. Examples include things such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the emotional trauma of handling a disability.

Accident Reconstruction Experts may be used to help law enforcement and your attorneys reconstruct an accident. Drawings, models and special computer programs can help them determine how an accident occurred, the speed the vehicles were going, the force of the impact and more.

Economics Experts may be used when your injuries have affected your ability to earn a living. These experts can testify as to how the injury has and/or will affect your current and future wages, which requires looking at the value of future wages you might have earned.

Engineering Expert WitnessEngineering Experts may be used to talk about how something was built; for instance, finding that a roadway’s engineering may have led to the accident.

Manufacturing Experts may be used to show how a product’s manufacturing was defective and led to the accident/injury. For instance, a part on a vehicle may have failed and caused the accident.

Maintenance Experts may be used to prove a trucking company did not perform maintenance as required, leading to or contributing to your accident.

A professional may be the only one who can prove an injury was caused by negligence, how it will affect your life and its severity. While it is good to have an understanding of the types of witnesses that are often involved in personal injury cases; your personal injury attorney will determine what is needed based on the specifics of your situation.

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