In every jury trial in which an injured person seeks recovery for injuries resulting from a car crash or other harm committed by the negligence of others, the testimony of witnesses is needed to prove the case.
Some of these witnesses can testify based on their viewing of the car crash. Others are physicians and various health care professionals who rendered medical care to the injured person. Friends, co-workers and family members can testify about how the person’s injuries have impaired his ability to work or enjoy leisure activities.
Ideally, the injured person’s attorney will be able to convince the needed witnesses to voluntarily come to court to testify. Unfortunately, some witnesses don’t want to come to court. There are a variety of reasons for this, such as:
1. They think they are too busy and can’t afford to lose time from work.
2. They feel intimidated by the legal system and fear being cross-examined by the opposing attorney.
3. They may know people on both sides of the case and fear that getting involved in the case will cause social difficulties and conflicts after the trial.
When a key witness refuses to come to court, the attorney can compel the witness’s attendance by issuing a subpoena. A subpoena is a court-approved document which requires a person to appear in court or face being held in contempt by the trial judge. Contempt can include the imposition of a fine or even brief imprisonment.
Issuing a subpoena should only be done as a last resort. Reason – a witness forced to testify against his wishes often turns into a hostile witnesses who can do damage to a case instead of helping the injured person obtain a just and fair jury verdict.