Last time, we discussed party depositions. This time, we will discuss fact witness depositions.
What are "fact witnesses" and what role to they play in your case? Fact witnesses are the people who can offer eye witness testimony to what you went through or even if they didn't witness it, they know something about the liability or damages portion of your case. If you were in a car accident, the fact witnesses involved in your case may include any passengers in your car or the other car, any eye witnesses to the crash, the police officers, the EMS workers, your friends/family/co-workers who have seen the pain and suffering you have gone through. Sometimes, your medical doctors and hospitals can be considered fact witnesses but usually they are considered expert witnesses. We will discuss that in the next post.
Fact witnesses can be crucial to your case. While your own testimony is very important, oftentimes, the true facts come down to a difference between what you and the defendant says – a "he said, she said" sort of thing. A fact witness can be a tie breaker for this dispute. A fact witness can testify that he or she actually saw the traffic light, saw you stop, and saw the defendant run the light. A fact witness co-worker can testify that prior to the crash, you never missed a day at work, you were always upbeat and ready to help but now, after the crash, you call in sick a lot and your personality has changed at work too. The jury always believes an independent witness – someone with no stake in the game, no financial interest in the outcome – over a party witness. And it makes sense, if you think about it.
As your case progresses, your attorney will ask you lots of questions about potential witnesses and will try to talk to each and every one of these people to start gathering evidence – pieces of the puzzle to tell your story to the jury. You can help this process by telling your attorney the name and contact information of everyone who knows about the incident that hurt you, the names of people who knew you well before the injury, and the names of people who have seen you suffer since the injury.
Next time, we will discuss expert witness depositions.