Colorado Auto Accident Q&A: Can I Use a Witness?
On television shows, courtroom witnesses often come bearing scandalous and shocking evidence. In real life, though, witnesses frequently offer fairly mundane information. However, a witness can help you if your case goes to trial after an accident.
Can I Use a Witness?
Colorado law allows you to use a witness for your case, as long as the witness is qualified to testify. A person with a severe intellectual disability or a very young child, for example, might not be permitted to testify. But there are exceptions even to this rule, and in most cases your witness will be permitted to share his/her account. Your witness can only testify to information for which he or she has personal knowledge; a witness can’t testify to something someone else said, since this is considered hearsay.
How Can a Witness Help?
A witness serves two purposes. First, he or she helps back up your claims. If you insist that another driver was speeding, for example, a witness can say that he saw the driver driving too fast. Witnesses may also testify to events that they witnessed but that you did not. A witness might, for example, testify to the fact that he or she saw the other driver hit a median or animal prior to hitting your car, thus driving in a careless manner. In either case, a witness makes your claim seem more credible, and can make it difficult for the other side to challenge your factual claims. In some cases, having a compelling witness can encourage the other side to settle rather than waste time in court.
Witnesses aren’t just people who witnessed the accident, though. Anyone who can testify to pertinent information may be a witness. Your auto mechanic may testify to the total amount of damages on your vehicle or your doctor might testify to the nature of your injuries.
In many cases, your witnesses will be people you don’t know personally. This is why it’s so important to get the names and contact information of everyone who witnessed your car accident, even if you’re not sure you’ll be using those witnesses. In many cases, witnesses will be happy to testify on your behalf, and it’s always better to have a voluntary witness rather than an uncooperative one.
If you can’t get the witness to voluntarily testify, you may subpoena him or her—but only if you have the witness’s name and contact information. In such a case, it’s a wise idea to be apologetic about the subpoena and to be thankful for their appearance.
The right witness can make or break your case, so keep a file with all relevant contact information. Immediately after the accident, give your attorney all the relevant information so the two of you can decide whom to call. Above all, treat your witnesses with respect.
If you find yourself injured after an accident and need help with your case, in its entirety, please call one of the experienced Colorado Auto Accident Attorneys at McDivitt Law Firm for a FREE consultation.Back to the Blog