10 Tips for being a Great Witness Against the Driver Who Hit You

Witness Tips for a Driver Who Hit You

Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer– If you are involved in a serious car accident, it is possible that the other driver was charged with an offence, either under the Highway Traffic Act or under the Criminal Code of Canada.

If you are injured and intend to claim compensation, the outcome of the charges can impact the success of your civil claim for damages.  We often hear from our Ottawa and Eastern Ontario clients that they were very surprized that the prosecutor (the Crown) was not more attentive to them and did not prepare them better for the trial.   Remember that the prosecutor is not “your lawyer” at someone else’s criminal or traffic offence trial.   The prosecutor will rarely have time to do more than speak with you briefly before trial.

To help you provide the best evidence possible, here are some suggestions.

  1. Before the trial, meet with your own personal injury lawyer to review what documents you have which describe how the accident occurred.  You may have a copy of the motor vehicle accident report as well as your own written descriptions of the accident on the accident benefit application forms.  You will want to know what you have said about the accident in the past.  One way defence lawyers secure aquittals is by showing inconsistencies in the witnesses’ stories.  You will want to be as consistent as possible.  If there are inconsistencies, you will want to think about why that is, and consider how to handle questions about those inconsistencies.
  2. You will want to show up early on the day of the trial to increase the chance of being able to meet with the prosecutor and to make sure you are in the right courtroom etc.  If you have not done so beforehand, specifically ask the prosecutor for an opportunity to review any statements they have in their possession from you.  Review your statement(s) carefully.
  3. Dress the way you would dress for a job interview.  You do not need to buy new clothes for the trial, but make sure you look as professional and respectable as possible.
  4. Speak slowly and clearly when providing your testimony. To be a good witness, ensure that everyone in the courtroom is able to hear and understand what you are saying. Often there is a microphone in the witness box.  However, it does not always amplify.  Sometimes it simply records your evidence for the court reporter.
  5. Sit up straight in your chair when testifying. Look and appear comfortable, but try to appear serious.  If you are injured and need a break from testifying, or need to stretch or walk due to your injuries, ask the permission of the judge before doing so, and explain why you need to do so.
  6. Listen carefully to the questions you are asked by both the prosector and the defence lawyer.  Only answer the specific question you are asked and then stop talking.
  7. When you give your evidence, only state facts that you are certain are true based on your own knowledge or experience. Do not speculate or supply information about someone else’s testimony. You should only speak about things you witnessed personally or know from your own circumstances.  If there is something you don’t remember, don’t be afraid to say so.
  8. Don’t rush your answers. Take your time answering each question the lawyers ask you. Though it’s a good idea to be prompt in supplying your answer to each question, you do not want to run the risk of providing misinformation because you misunderstand the question.
  9. Stay calm, cool and collected.  You may get upset while testifying.  It is okay (and common) to cry.  It is not okay to lose your temper.  During cross-examination by the defence lawyer, you will be required to answer questions that will challenge your credibility. It is possible that these questions may be aggressive and hostile.  Do your best to maintain your self-control while answering the questions.
  10. Be very careful when you answer questions about your injuries and disabilities as a result of the accident.  It is very likely that the insurance company’s lawyer will request a copy of the transcript of your evidence at the criminal trial.  If asked, you will want to be sure that you identify all of your injuries (from head to toe), not just the worst ones.  You may want to rush through this “to get it over with”.  However, it is very important that you do not do so.

Your experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer can help you through the process of testifying at traffic court or in criminal court.  If you would like help from the personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth, call us at 613 860-4529 or email us at [email protected].

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