When you are a personal injury plaintiff, an eyewitness who doesn't want to testify for your case might disappoint you. Below are some of the efforts you can use to get the witness to testify.
Offer protection if the witness's primary fear is retaliation from the defendant. A witness might fear for their life if the defendant is a notorious criminal. A witness may also fear other forms of retaliation if the defendant is in a position of authority.
Courts have different ways of protecting such witnesses. For example, the witness can get a protection order that bars the defendant from having any contact with the witness.
Request Private Testimony
Courts usually hold personal injury trials in public — anyone who can access the courtroom gets to witness and hear the proceedings. However, you can request for a private hearing if you have the necessary legal grounds. For example, you can convince the court of the need to protect your witness's safety, security, or decency so that the court can prescribe a private hearing.
Offer Alternative Methods of Testifying
The conventional idea of witness testimony is to get the person to stand in court and tell their version of the events. However, that is just one way of testifying; there are other ways such as the following.
For deposition, the witness sits down in a room (other than a courtroom) and relays their testimony as a court reporter records it. The room remains closed to the public during the deposition.
In an affidavit, the witness writes down or relays their version of the events and another person writes it down. The witness then signs the document to authenticate it. The affidavit then stands in place of the witness during the trial.
Subpoena the Witness
If the above efforts fail, then you still have the option to subpoena the witness. A subpoena is a court order commanding a witness to come to court and testify. A witness who fails to obey the command is in contempt of court and can face a variety of criminal penalties, including jail time.
You must convince the court that the witness's testimony is crucial to your case. The court also has to be satisfied that the witness's case doesn't fall under any of the legal exceptions that protect people from subpoenas.
Speak with a personal injury lawyer to learn more about getting witness testimonies for your case.