If your car accident case winds up going to court, you might need eyewitnesses to give testimony regarding what happened. If your witness is credible, their statement could bolster the strength of your claim, but what if your witness doesn’t want to go to court? Can they simply refuse to do so? If this happens, what do you do?
Can a witness to a car accident be compelled to testify in court?
If you sustained harm due to another driver’s negligence, you could be entitled to pursue financial compensation. The personal injury law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has a well-established track record of achieving successful outcomes in car accident cases results.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Virginia car accident lawyers.
When Does a Car Accident Case Benefit From Witness Testimony?
There are many circumstances under which an eyewitness is a great boon to a car accident case. Both juries and insurance companies lend a great deal of weight to witness testimony because they are neutral third parties with no stake in the outcome of the case.
Not every car accident requires witness statements. This is especially true in cases that are relatively straightforward or have strong evidence, such as traffic or dashcam video footage.
There are, however, just as many accidents where credible witness testimony will provide further insight into what happened and increase the validity of your case, such as:
- When there are gaps in the details: In some instances, one or both drivers might be unable to recall specific details or deliberately omit them. One example of this would be if a driver sustained a head injury and is experiencing short-term memory loss.
- To help determine liability: Sometimes, a witness’ vantage point affords them a better view of the events leading up to an accident. For example, a pedestrian who was waiting to cross the street might have had a clear view of a driver looking at their phone moments before they ran a stop sign.
- Giving unbiased testimony: A convincing witness statement can be a powerful tool in a Virginia car accident case. If one driver’s version of events is wildly different than the other driver’s, witness testimony given on your behalf can strengthen a claim.
What Happens if the Witness Refuses to Testify?
Ideally, witnesses would always be willing to testify if and when they are needed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When this happens, it is often because they are uncomfortable or afraid of speaking up in court. A skilled attorney might be able to persuade or reassure a witness that it is perfectly safe for them to testify to what they saw.
In the event that a witness adamantly refuses to testify, a legal curative could present itself in the form of a subpoena. If a witness is subpoenaed and they fail to show up, they could be held in contempt of court. Being found in contempt generally involves little more than paying a fine. In rare cases, the court may give a jail sentence. Further, the eyewitness could be issued an order to produce.
Is it Possible For a Witness to Avoid a Subpoena?
Yes, it is. As opposed to witnesses who are not expecting subpoenas, those anticipating legal problems, like someone who is aware they could be sued, often go to great lengths to avoid being served. One way to handle this is to hire a process server. These professionals are accustomed to people avoiding them so they employ a variety of unusual and creative methods to ensure successful delivery.
There are legal ways a witness could avoid responding to or dealing with a subpoena, such as by claiming:
- Undue Burden: Similar to being called for jury duty, if the witness is able to show that an undue burden exists, then they might not be required to comply.
- Reasonable Place: Subpoenaed witnesses cannot be required to travel more than 100 miles from their place of residence.
- Reasonable Time Not Provided: The subpoena must give the witness sufficient notice that they are required to appear.
Were You Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?
The Virginia car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have decades of experience handling personal injury cases and have a solid reputation as one of Virginia’s most respected personal injury law firms. Give us a call at (833) 997-1774 and schedule your free consultation today.
For over twenty years, Mr. Sharp's law practice has focused on serious personal injury claims, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury claims. He also handles nursing home neglect cases and medical malpractice claims. Mr. Sharp has counseled numerous clients about the complexities concerning litigation of both pediatric and adult brain injury.