The Importance Of the “Before/After” Witness in Personal Injury Cases

Personal Injury Victim California

The “before/after” witness, as a person is sometimes called, is an individual who knew someone both before and after a personal injury accident. The testimony of this type of witness can be crucial when it comes to establishing the changes that have resulted from a personal injury accident.

When someone files a personal injury lawsuit, he or she is often asking for monetary damages that compensate for intangible losses such as loss of love and affection or loss of enjoyment. In order to prove that these losses actually occurred, it sometimes helps to have a before/after witness.

What Are the Requirements for Being a “Before/After” Witness?

A before/after witness should have personal knowledge as to what the victim was like both before and after the accident in a physical and mental sense. They should be able to testify as to the changes they have noticed in the victim’s physical ability and behavior. This means that a doctor or other healthcare professional is probably not a good before/after witness, as these professionals usually become involved in the victim’s case only after the injury is sustained.

Instead, a before/after witness could be a family member, a co-worker, a friend, an employer or someone else who knew the victim and interacted with him or her on a regular basis both before and after the accident. The main requirement for such a witness is that he or she has personal knowledge of the victim’s state before and after the accident. This type of witness does not have to have a college degree, or even a high school diploma, to be considered an “expert.”

Why Would I Want a “Before/After” Witness in My Case?

The strategy behind putting a before/after witness on the stand is one of showing the jury the losses sustained by the victim in a very real way. There is a powerful psychological impact in seeing a family member, friend or co-worker on the state, discussing the changes that have occurred in the victim’s life. This gives a jury something to quantify, so that they can assess the victim’s losses from a realistic standpoint.

Often, when cases involve a before/after witness, juries are led to understand exactly how the victim’s life has really changed. This is hard to show with graphs and charts, but easier to understand when friends share anecdotes about the “before” and “after” characteristics of the victim. Testimonies from before/after witnesses are critical in making determinations for pain and suffering compensation.

A personal injury attorney will work with you to decide if a before/after witness should be used in your personal injury case and, if so, who that witness should be. In some cases, it is advisable to have more than one before/after witness to give the jury a full picture of the victim’s losses. For example, a personal injury attorney might advise that the victim have a before/after witness from among the immediate family, from among co-workers and from among friends at church or civic organizations. This gives the jury a full understanding of just how much an accident has impacted a victim’s life.