Can You Force a Witness to Testify in Your Houston Car Accident Case?
When you get into a Houston car wreck, there are a few things you need to do. If you follow these steps, you’ll have the best shot at being compensated for your injuries. If you miss any of these steps, however, you jeopardize your chances of winning your lawsuit.
First, you always need to call the police after your car accident. By law, you have to report your accident anyway. You may as well kill two birds with one stone and call the cops to the scene.
The second thing you need to do is go to the hospital. If you don’t go, there’s no way to prove you were injured. And, if you wait too long to go, the defendant will claim that something other than your accident caused your injuries.
Finally, you need to call a Houston car wreck attorney. This way, you know your case is handled properly from the start.
The Police Will Provide Your Houston Car Wreck Lawyer with Witness Information
Sometimes, the most valuable information comes from people who witnessed your car accident. When the police investigate the scene, they’ll get contact information for the eye witnesses. They’ll also get statements from the witnesses.
If you don’t call the police, you won’t have this information. Once you leave the scene, you’ll never see the witnesses again. People aren’t going to want to give a perfect stranger their contact information. They’ll be more willing to talk to the police.
The police will put the witnesses’ contact information in their police report. Your attorney can then reach out to these people. They can ask them to testify on your behalf. If the witness isn’t willing to do this, they may be willing to fill out an affidavit.
What’s the Difference Between an Affidavit and Testifying?
If your case goes to trial, your attorney will have to present evidence. This evidence is used to prove the defendant was responsible for your injuries. Some of the ways your lawyer does this is through the following:
- Expert witnesses
- Pictures and videos
- Documents such as the police report
- Testimony from witnesses and yourself
When someone is physically present in court and take the stand, it’s called testifying. If that person isn’t willing or able to come to court, they can submit a written statement instead. This statement is called an affidavit.
The other option is a deposition. When you’re in open court, the defendant’s lawyer can cross-examine your witnesses. They can’t do this when they submit an affidavit. So your attorney can hold a deposition instead.
A deposition is when your witness is in a room with attorneys from both sides. Both sides can ask questions. The deposition is records and then a court reporter transcribes the conversation. This transcript is then submitted in court as evidence.
What if the Witness Refuses to Participate?
Some witnesses want nothing to do with your lawsuit. The fact that they happened to see your accident shouldn’t require them to get involved. The problem is, you may need them to help prove your case.
If a witness refuses to testify or complete an affidavit, your attorney may have to force them to do it. Your lawyer can do this using a subpoena. A subpoena is a court order. It’s basically a form where the judge tells the witness they must appear in court to testify.
If someone refuses to comply with the subpoena, they’re essentially disobeying a court order. It’s as if they’re telling the judge they don’t care what they say. They’re not going to come to court and tell their story.
If someone refuses to comply with a valid subpoena, they’ll be held in contempt of court. The first time they do this, the judge will give them a second chance. If they continue to refuse to cooperate, they can be fined and even arrested.
A subpoena is a last resort. You can imagine how happy someone will be when they’re forced to go to court. There’s nothing stopping them from either pretending they don’t know what happened or testifying for the defendant.
As much as you would hope someone would tell the truth in court, if you push them to a certain point, there’s no telling what they’ll do. And even if your lawyer thinks the witness is lying, there’s usually no way to prove it.
Contact a Houston Car Wreck Lawyer Today
If you’re involved in a car accident, you need to contact a Houston car wreck lawyer right away. You need to focus on recovering from your injuries. Let an experienced lawyer handle the legal side of things.
Call McDonald Worley today and schedule your free initial consultation. The defendant will have a lawyer on their side and you should too.