What is a liability witness vs damages witness?

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Many people do not know the difference between a liability witness vs damages witness. It is common for people to only think about who was at the scene of the car accident. For example, if you were rear-ended at the intersection of Main and Church Street in Burlington, nearby pedestrians could act as liability witnesses.

However, this isn’t the only kind of witness that you will need to prove your case. Accident lawyers need to prove who was at fault and how much the injuries have impacted your life. That is where damages witnesses are critical to getting you the most from insurance companies.

Liability witnesses say who is at fault vs. damages witnesses who stories of your recovery. In today’s video, Burlington accident lawyer Drew Palcisk discusses the strengths of both types of witnesses.

liability witness vs damage witness

Liability Witness vs Damages Witness

Video Transcript

Hey, it’s Drew from Champlain Valley Law. In this video, we’ll start to talk about the importance of witnesses in a personal injury case. Especially as it pertains to the difference between a liability witness vs damages witness.

If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend you watch our previous videos introducing the topic of lay witnesses. Anyone who’s ever seen a TV show about the legal system knows that witnesses are an important part of a trial, and witness testimony in a courtroom can be very dramatic.

In this video, I want to introduce two kinds of lay witnesses and how they can be important to you if you’ve been injured and think about a legal claim.

As a reminder, in every personal injury claim, you as the injured person has to prove that there is someone responsible for the harm, that is, liable, that you were injured and suffered consequences, or what we call damages, and that there are a cause and effect relationship between the negligence and the harm done.

When we talk about witnesses, it’s important to think about where a witness will help in your case. Liability witnesses will help you prove fault, and damages witnesses will help you prove the harm done. Usually, causation witnesses will be experts, and that’s a topic for another day.

Liability witnesses

When we’re interviewing a new client, one of the first things we do is ask about witnesses. We often get a response such as, “Well, there was no one there to see the crash.” These people are thinking about liability witnesses. Liability witnesses are people who can tell us something about who was at fault for the crash.

These are often people listed in the police officer’s crash report, where they might’ve been in a nearby car, on the sidewalk, or otherwise saw the crash happen. These people are important and maybe the most common kind of liability witness, but they’re not the only kind.

A liability witness doesn’t have actually to witness the crash to be helpful, though. There are all kinds of people who might serve as liability witnesses, including passengers in your car or the other driver’s car, who might be able to tell us something about the traffic or weather conditions at the time of the crash.

In other kinds of cases, a liability witness can tell us about the stairway’s dangerous condition that caused you to fall or the icy walkway that was never cleared.

Notice Witnesses

Perhaps one of the most important kinds of liability witness that most people aren’t familiar with is called a notice witness. Many kinds of injury cases require you as the injured person to prove that the wrongdoer had notice of a dangerous condition before they can be held responsible.

For instance, a notice witness can be the person who tells us that he or she complained to the landlord or property owner about a dangerous condition before you got hurt, meaning that witness put the property owner on notice.

Damages witnesses

Now that we’ve covered what a liability witness is and a few examples let’s talk about the other type of witness, the damages witness. A damages witness can tell us about how the injury affects your life. The best damages witnesses can help us understand the important differences in your life before and after the injury.

Ideally, these are people who know you well in your community. Perhaps a coworker, someone you serve as a volunteer or a local shopkeeper who you see with some regularity. These are folks who don’t have a particular stake in your case’s outcome, but can tell us about you from their own perspective.

For instance, a damages witness might be someone you volunteer with at the local animal shelter. He or she might tell us about how before the injury. How you loved to spend time with the animals, but since your injury, you’re unable to walk the dogs. Maybe they could share how you’ve stopped volunteering altogether.

In other words, damages witnesses help prove that an injury happened and that there’s been an impact on your life, from that person’s perspective.


Your takeaway from today’s video should be this. When thinking about witnesses for your case, keep in mind that witnesses help us prove who is responsible. That means liability witnesses, and witnesses who help us prove the harm that was done or damages witnesses. Be sure to spend time with your lawyer identifying all of the possible liability witnesses. Try to think creatively about the people in your life who could serve as damages witnesses. I promise you; this will be time well spent.

I hope you found today’s video helpful. If so, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel. As always, let us know in the comments section below if there’s a topic you’d like to hear more about. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you next time.