A Guide to Witnesses in Civil Cases

Witnesses play a crucial role in any legal proceeding. They can clarify the facts of a case, authenticate evidence, and confirm liability. Many witnesses shy away from their roles in injury claims because they don’t want to go to court. In practice, parties often settle injury disputes outside the courtroom. Whether you’re an independent bystander, an expert in your field, or another type of witness, your willingness to step forward could make a meaningful difference in someone’s recovery and future life.

Types of Witnesses

An attorney may reach out to several different types of witnesses to build a case for his or her client’s recovery, including:

In civil claims, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. In a typical negligence-based case, the plaintiff must prove the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, the defendant breached that duty, and that violation proximally caused the plaintiff’s injuries and/or losses. Witnesses help attorneys turn the facts of a case into a cohesive picture that connects a defendant’s duty of care with a plaintiff’s injuries.

On the flip side, witnesses can poke holes in a plaintiff’s case. A defendant may secure witnesses who can disprove liability or the extent of injuries. In either case, witnesses help protect the truth of a case.

Witness Tips for Witnesses

If you see a preventable personal injury accident take place, you may play an important role in the justice system. While you are not obligated to serve as a witness until you receive a subpoena to appear at a deposition or in court, you may want to start thinking like a witness from the moment an incident occurs. To embrace your role as an independent or involved witness:

Witness Tips for Plaintiffs

If you’re an injury claimant, witnesses may clarify facts of the case that remain hazy in your mind. They can help your case before you even know you want to file one. Use these tips to acquire helpful witnesses and serve as your own case witness, if needed: