Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why Its Important for the Lawyer to Speak to Witnesses

   Many lawyers do not call witnesses to ask what happened in an accident.  Instead, they rely on second hand information from investigators and police reports.  Sometimes they will subpoena witnesses.  Whenever possible, I call the witnesses.  90 % of the time, after a phone call or cup of coffee, the case has gotten stronger.

   Over the last few months, there has been a number of examples of this.  By calling a name referenced without explanation in an FAA report, I learned about the existence of an eyewitness to an airplane crash.
By calling the doctor hired by an insurer to examine a client, I was able to confirm that injuries had been caused by an accident.  By calling employees on a work roster, I was able to confirm that ignoring safety rules was a common practice. In one particular case involving road maintenance, a witness would regularly call me to share that the highway maintenance crew were continuing the same practice that had caused the death of my client's father.

   Why don't lawyers call witnesses more often?  Part of the reason is that in a busy practice filled with court Orders and phone calls requiring action, it becomes just another thing to do that can be easily put off.  Another reason is simply the naive belief that reports  or subpoenas will achieve the same goal with less effort  by the lawyer.  Finally, one has to admit that getting a call from a lawyer is rarely "good news" and sometimes witnesses will actively try and avoid lawyers.  I try and overcome this attitude where possible by having clients, if possible, tell the witness I will be calling.

   You have to play your hand smartly. See www.Junelawyer.com