How to Be an Effective Witness

No matter your station in life, you are at risk of being involved in a lawsuit or criminal investigation. They are two very different things, but lawsuits and investigations do share some common traits. Most importantly, they rely on witnesses.

If someone is accused of a crime, witnesses can be used to determine the character of a person or to verify an alibi. Similarly, in a lawsuit, witnesses can be utilized as evidence-providing testifiers for the plaintiff or as experts for the defense. As evident from its conclusion on the website for the Lexington personal injury law firm, Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, witness statements are an important part of the discovery process for investigations into accidents, explosions, and more.

At some point in life, you may be called on to provide a statement in writing or in court. This experience can be straight-forward or incredibly scary. Either way, you need to know how to act and what to say to be an effective witness!

They Can Always Handle the Truth

As a witness, it can be tempting to bend the truth alongside the narrative provided by with whomever you agree the most or by the person who called you to testify or provide a written statement. However, this almost never works out in your favor.

Because witnesses in-court are subject to cross-examination by the opposing lawyer, you will almost certainly be held accountable if you lie. The other attorneys have evidence, timelines, documents and more to prove you wrong.

Lying is also just plain wrong. Do not bend the truth or withhold relevant information as a witness. Doing so will not work out in your favor nor will it weigh well on your conscience!

Detailed, But Not Too Detailed

The amount of detail and information to offer is a tough balance to strike as a witness in an investigation or lawsuit. Especially when involving situations like accidents or medical emergencies, it may be tempting to provide as much information as possible when asked by an investigator or professional.

However, be sure to not provide an amount of information that will lead to mistakes in documentation. For example, if you include information about a specific statistic or rare, hard-to-pronounce health condition, the person documenting your witness statement may lose track of the more important details.

My best advice is to remember — and discuss — the most important aspects of your knowledge while offering more details if necessary or needed. Through this, you will be able to accomplish both the goal of being an effective witness while also still offering the whole and complete truth.

Overall, being an effective witness is a tough task. While we have only covered two of the most important aspects of being a witness in an investigation or lawsuit, there are many other factors that affect your performance. Like anything in life, being an effective witness only requires you to follow your gut and do the right thing — everything else will work out in the end!