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Witnesses in Personal Injury Trials

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury


When your personal injury claim goes to trial, evidence will be admitted to the court through witnesses. Whether the evidence includes photos of the scene of the accident or information regarding your physical and psychological injuries, it will be introduced when an individual is on the stand to verify the evidence and answer questions about it. With a wide range of evidence to submit, your attorney will need numerous witnesses to discuss the accident, your injuries, and your monetary damages. Common witnesses in personal injury trials include medical experts, engineers, and people who saw the accident happen.

To learn more about bringing a personal injury claim and the types of witnesses that are necessary, contact a Chicago personal injury attorney of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900.

The Difference Between Lay and Expert Witnesses

An expert witness is an individual whose education, training, work, and reputation within a specific field makes that individual uniquely qualified to provide an opinion on an issue pertaining to that field during a lawsuit. An expert may be used during a personal injury case to talk about a specific issue, such as a medical expert discussing a type of injury you suffered, or to a more generalized issue, such as an engineer discussing the design of a vehicle. An expert witness must go over his or her qualifications in court before being allowed to testify about the issue. Usually, an expert witness is not personally involved with the case. Instead, he or she is there to provide an objective opinion based on the facts. Additionally, an expert witness is usually paid for his or her time spent preparing for and attending trial.

A lay witness is an individual who offers testimony based on what he or she knows about the accident. A lay witness does not need any specific qualifications to testify. However, in order for his or her testimony to be allowed, it must be based on his or her own perception, such as his or her sight or hearing, and it must be relevant to the personal injury case. Essentially, anyone who testifies during a trial that is not an expert, is a lay witness.

Common Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Trials

Personal injury cases often require certain types of expert witnesses, including:

  • Medical experts
  • Mental health experts
  • Accident reconstruction experts
  • Engineers
  • Maintenance specialists
  • Physicists
  • Economic experts
  • Regulatory experts
  • Vocational specialists
  • Data experts

Common Lay Witnesses in Personal Injury Trials

When you testify in your own personal injury case, you are a lay witness. Even if you are an expert in your field, you are not testifying based on your education and professional experience. You are testifying based on your own experiences and perceptions. Other common lay witnesses used in personal injury trials include:

  • Your spouse or significant other
  • Your family members, friends, or neighbors
  • Witnesses to the accident
  • Your physician or medical provider
  • Your care professional
  • Your employer or supervisor
  • Your coworkers
  • The defendant
  • Employees of the defendant

Preparing for Trial

Your attorney will thoroughly identify necessary witnesses and prepare all of them for court. This will include taking depositions, going over answers and questions, and practicing how to give clear, understandable answers. By the time each witness goes to the stand, he or she will know your attorney’s questions and the order in which they will be asked, and your lawyer will know all of the witnesses’ answers. Your attorney will also have gone over potential questions from the defendant’s attorneys, preparing your expert and lay witnesses for cross-examination.

What to Expect at Court

Your attorney will call witnesses to the stand one at a time and ask them the predetermined questions. This is known as a direct examination and witnesses are expected to answer promptly and clearly, speaking loud enough for the entire courtroom to hear. Once your attorney finishes his or her questions for a witness, the opposing side’s attorney will then ask that witness questions. This is the cross-examination and can be stressful for the witness. However, he or she will be prepared for these and will have practiced giving short, brief answers. If your attorney has any follow up questions after the cross-examination, the judge may allow him or her to ask a few questions during what is known as a re-direct.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If you have been hurt in an accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you bring a personal injury claim and gain compensation. An attorney can guide you through an insurance claim, and if necessary, represent you during a personal injury lawsuit. If your case needs to go to trial, an attorney is essential in gathering evidence, finding experts, preparing witnesses, and ensuring a cohesive argument is made in court.

Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to schedule an initial consultation.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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