Does A Witness To A Fatal Car Accident Have To Testify At The Preceding Lawsuit?



Car accidents are traumatic and complicated affairs. The troubles associated with car accidents linger long after the injuries have healed and the damages have been repaired. Most of the time, car accident happens so fast that the parties involved have no clear recollection of the events that transpired. Even if they can recall the facts leading to the accident, their statements may be tainted with bias. Involved parties have the tendency to distort the facts to exculpate them from liability or exaggerate details to increase their claims. Hence, the presence of objective witnesses play an important role in the resolution of car accident claims.

In civil suits arising from car accident claims, the plaintiff and defendant are the only indispensable parties. This means that the case can prosper even without the involvement of other personalities. Any other persons, including eyewitnesses are not required to be a party to the case. Eyewitnesses are not even obliged by law to testify in the trial of a case except if called upon by the court. Even in such cases, the witness may not be compelled to take the witness stand unless his testimony is absolutely necessary to the settlement of the case.

Moreover, federal law provides several exemptions for issuing subpoenas to testify in court. An example would be when the witness is residing abroad or far from the venue of the court. If the witness is out of reach, a written interrogatory or deposition can be issued to obtain his/her testimonies instead.

If an eyewitness is summoned to testify, he has the lawful responsibility to appear before the proper court. A witness who fails to appear despite receipt of summons can be cited in contempt and arrested. In real life however, it is the duty of the parties, either the plaintiff or defendant, to locate witnesses and convince them to appear in court. This is based on the consideration that the statement of the witnesses will benefit the parties themselves; hence it is incumbent upon them to persuade the witnesses to testify. Only when they have exhausted all efforts to sway the witnesses to attend can they seek the assistance of the court through issuance of a summons. The court is generally reluctant to summon witnesses especially if there are sufficient documents to decide the case.

The summons will state the date and time of the hearing and the person served with such must appear in court. At the trial, the witness will be made to swear or affirm that he will tell nothing but the truth. This duty extends to oral as well as written statements. If the witness violates this solemn oath and misleads the court with false or erroneous statements, he will be charged with perjury. The rights of the witness are protected while testifying. The opposing counsel cannot harass him by asking insulting or irrelevant questions.

In car accident litigations, the statements of witnesses can be the difference between a finding of guilt or innocence. The declarations of a disinterested eyewitness are given much weight by the court. His lack of interest in the outcome of the case makes them more believable compared to the parties who have a lot at stake.

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