California Personal Injury Case: Is Forced Testimony Legal?

When an eyewitness refuses to testify on your behalf, this can sometimes affect the outcome of your California personal injury case. What can be done when a key witness refuses to testify on your behalf? If you have been injured in an accident, our personal injury attorneys can help you determine what steps you need to take to get compensation for your damages, including getting a witness statement. Data for the 2017 California Workplace Injury and Illness Report released by the Department of Industrial Relations shows that California had approximately 466,600 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2017. The private sector accounted for 78% of the activity, while state and local governments accounted for 22%.

Can You Force a Witness to Testify?

The court or a court official, such as a lawyer, may issue a subpoena to require witnesses to testify in a personal injury trial. A subpoena usually entails disclosure of documents or the requirement of witnesses to appear in court to testify. In many cases, it is necessary to comply with subpoenas to avoid acting in contempt of court, which can result in fines or jail time. However, there are a few exceptions to the obligation to comply with subpoenas, such as:

Avoiding the Summons:

The witness must be given the subpoena to be compelled to testify in court. Reluctant witnesses sometimes take extra steps to make sure that they do not receive this summons.

The Process of Testifying Is an Undue Burden to Witnesses:

Potential witnesses may be able to avoid having to respond to a subpoena if they would incur unnecessary difficulties from testifying. However, the circumstances for such cases might vary.

Responses Must Be Sent Within a Reasonable Time After the Summon Is Issued:

To ensure that the potential witness has sufficient time between the notification of summonses and the trial, the order must be sent at least two weeks before the trial date.

There Is Sensitive Information at Stake:

When someone has to disclose confidential information, or if they need an expert’s opinion, they may have to disclose trade secrets or confidential data. In addition, summoning a witness for a forced appearance can have some disadvantages, as most people tend to be bitter about when they must do something. In our practice, we have extensive experience dealing with witnesses and are prepared to take the necessary steps to avoid compelling a reluctant witness to testify. This includes constructing a strong case without the witness’ testimony.

A Subpoena May Not Be Necessary Every Time:

You will only need a subpoena if you have filed a lawsuit with the insurance company. However, if you can negotiate fairly and agree to a reasonable settlement, you may not need a subpoena. Summons are an integral part of a lawsuit, so they are only used when one is filed. It may not be necessary to ask for a subpoena in some cases if formal witness testimony was already obtained during the discovery phase of your California personal injury case. This testimony could have been written or taken during a recorded deposition. In certain cases, which require the testimony of a key witness, but that witness is unable to testify at trial for whatever reason, attorneys may take a deposition instead of calling the witness. However, this usually requires the prior approval of the judge overseeing the case.

How to Deal with a Reluctant Witness:

Witnesses to an accident are often hesitant to provide an official statement or testify in court on behalf of an injured victim. The reasons for this may include:
  • The witness is reluctant to get involved.
  • The witness is worried about retaliation.
As recommended by the experts, be flexible and work with the witness in a way that is comfortable for them. Take your cues from the witness and be as helpful as you can.

Call Us Today If You Have Been Involved in a California Personal Injury Case:

We offer a free consultation and will not charge you any upfront fees if you have been injured in an accident and need help getting compensation. We advise swift action after the accident, as a delay could be used by the defense against you. A solid California personal injury case can be put together on your behalf by our lawyers, including or not including testimony, to help you receive maximum compensation.
Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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