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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

Florida personal injury lawyers



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    The Importance of Witness Statements in Building a Strong Personal Injuries Case

    Witness statements often make the difference between winning and losing a personal injury case. Whether it’s a car accident, slip and fall, violent crime, or any other injury scenario, reliable witnesses can substantiate your claims and provide an objective perspective.

    Legal Context

    Under Florida law, statements made by witnesses can be critical evidence in personal injury cases. According to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, these statements can be used during depositions and trials to establish facts about the incident.

    Here’s why witness statements are crucial in building a strong injury case:

    • Corroborating Your Account — Witnesses can confirm the sequence of events as you describe them. Their accounts can validate your version of the incident, helping to establish that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s negligence. This corroboration is particularly vital when there are disputes over what happened.
    • Providing an Objective Perspective — Unlike the parties involved in the incident, witnesses generally have no stake in the case’s outcome. This objectivity makes their testimony more credible to insurance companies, judges, and juries. Witnesses can provide unbiased accounts that can counter any claims from the defendant that attempt to shift the blame onto you.
    • Detailing the Incident — Witness statements often include critical details that might be overlooked in the initial chaos following an accident. These details can help reconstruct the event, showing exactly how the injury occurred.

    For instance, in a car accident, witnesses might note the speed of the vehicles, traffic signals, or the behavior of the drivers involved.

    • Supporting Medical Evidence — Witnesses can also support your medical claims by describing the immediate aftermath of the incident, including your visible injuries and behavior. This can be particularly useful if there is a gap between the time of the accident and when you sought medical treatment.
    • Counteracting False Claims — In cases where the defendant or their insurance company disputes the facts of the case or attempts to downplay the severity of the incident, witness statements can serve as powerful evidence to counteract these false claims. A credible witness can refute the defendant’s version of events and reinforce your case.

    Who is Responsible for Collecting Witness Statements?

    In personal injury cases, several parties may be responsible for collecting witness statements and interviewing them:

    1. The Injured Party: Immediately after an accident, the injured party (or someone on their behalf) should try to collect contact information from any witnesses at the scene. This initial step is crucial as it ensures that witnesses can be contacted later.
    2. Law Enforcement Officers: When law enforcement responds to an accident, they often interview witnesses and include their statements in the official police report. These statements can be vital pieces of evidence in personal injury cases.
    3. Attorneys: Personal injury attorneys play a critical role in gathering and formalizing witness statements. They have the expertise to conduct thorough and unbiased interviews, ensuring that the statements are detailed and legally admissible. Attorneys may use written affidavits or recorded statements to document witness accounts.
    4. Private Investigators: In some cases, attorneys may hire private investigators to locate witnesses and obtain their statements. This can be particularly useful if witnesses are difficult to find or if more detailed investigation is needed.
    5. Insurance Companies: Both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s insurance companies may also collect witness statements as part of their investigation into the accident. However, it’s important to note that these statements are often taken to protect the insurance company’s interests.

    Best Practices for Gathering Witness Statements

    1. Act Quickly — Immediately after an accident, try to collect contact information from witnesses and ask if they would be willing to provide a statement. The sooner you can obtain witness statements, the better. Memories can fade, and details can become less clear over time.
    2. Record Statements Properly — Written statements are good, but recorded statements are even better. If possible, record the witness’s account of the incident, making sure to note the time and date of the recording. Ensure that the witness is comfortable and understands the importance of their testimony.
    3. Ask the Right Questions — When interviewing witnesses, ask open-ended questions that allow them to provide detailed answers. Avoid leading questions that might influence their responses. Key questions might include:
      • “Can you describe what you saw?”
      • “What were the conditions like at the time?”
      • “Did you notice anything unusual before or after the incident?”

    Legal Support

    Gathering and presenting witness statements effectively requires legal expertise. At Leighton Panoff Law, we understand witnesses’ critical roles in personal injury cases. Our experienced attorneys can help you collect, preserve, and present witness testimony to build a compelling case.

    If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us today for a consultation. We’re here to ensure you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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