What Qualities Make A Good Witness
Hey, it’s Drew from Champlain Valley Law. In today’s video, we’ll start to talk about who makes a good witness for your personal injury case.
Now, hopefully, you’ve had a chance to check out some of our previous videos, introducing the types of witnesses in a personal injury case. In this video, I want to share some of the things we look for in a witness.
Now, if you’ve ever watched TV shows about the law, you probably think about witnesses in a courtroom, answering questions from lawyers in front of a judge and jury. But the fact is, working with witnesses usually begins with detective work.
Our first step is identifying who can even serve as a witness in the first place.
Types of witnesses
If you remember, from the video where we discuss lay witnesses, a witness must at a minimum, have both competency and relevancy. That is, they must know things from their own experience that can help you prove a part of your case, but that’s only the beginning.
Once we’ve put together a list of potential witnesses, we have to figure out if they’ll actually be helpful.
What qualities make a helpful liability witness?
So what makes a witness helpful? Well, a good memory of course, is a starting point, but the best witnesses have an eye for detail. I like to think of a witness as a camera. Can the person show us through their own words, what they experienced and in a way, bring us back to that time and place.
For example, a good liability witness might tell us about the relative speed of two cars, when exactly the light changed or where a driver was looking when the crash happened.
What qualities make a helpful damages witness?
Now, contrast this with a witness who tells us only that driver was not paying attention or that the sidewalk was icy. So that’s a liability witness. A good damages witness will be able to tell us what they see you do and not do since the crash.
Such as how you used to be able to pitch baseballs to the nine-year-olds on your little league team. And how now, since the crash, you stand on the sidelines with a clipboard and aren’t able to participate in the practices. Contrast this with the witness who says only, “He’s in pain all the time.”
A quality storyteller
A related quality of a good witness is someone who can tell a story. We all know people who are engaging and know how to hold the attention of a group of people.
They’ll share an experience using the present tense and bring some emotion to the retelling.
In a sense, they’re performers.
A good storyteller can convey how you once helped their child hit their first baseball; how the child’s face lit up and so did yours; how you ran to home plate to give them a high five, and how since the crash, you’re just not the same coach you used to be.
You’re not able to run with the kids, bend over to collect the baseballs, or even to pitch the ball.
You’ve since stepped down from your role as head coach, and now they see you in the dugout, on the bench, working on the rosters; trying to help in any way you can, but it’s just not the same.
Now contrast this with the witness that can only think to say you’re in pain all the time and just sit around a lot. Now, which person would you like to hear from if you were on the jury?
Okay. To be fair, we don’t all have the luxury of being surrounded by great storytellers who also happened to be great potential witnesses, but it does help to be thinking about who you know that does possess these qualities.
So I hope you’ll take away from this video, some thoughts about the people in your life who might be good witnesses. Usually, you don’t have much choice when it comes to liability or fault witnesses. But with damages witnesses, the people in your life who can share stories and have an eye for detail, will make great candidates when it comes time to proving your case in court.
I hope you found today’s video helpful. If so, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel. And if there’s anything you’d like to hear us talk more about, please let us know in the comments section below. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time.