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Terrible accident

  1. Sep 11, 2008 #1

    lisab

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    Two years ago today, I was a witness to a car accident. A family was in a car on the side of the road. The car pulled back onto the highway, right into the path of a semi truck that was loaded with bricks. When I say "right into the path" I mean, maybe two meters. The truck driver was not at fault; the driver of the car was.

    A 14-year-old boy died in that accident. It was so horrific, watching the Trooper tell the mom the bad news. My daughter was 14 at the time!

    Since then, I get calls from the family's lawyers from time to time, asking me to go over what I saw. It's clear that they "want" me to remember it differently...to put the blame on the truck driver (who almost certainly has deeper pockets than the family).

    Isn't it unethical, what the lawyers are doing? Or is it just part of their job? It's not blatant, but unmistakable, that they're trying to sway my account. How long do you think I'll be getting these calls?

    I drive by the site every day...sad to think about it.
     
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  3. Sep 11, 2008 #2

    Evo

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    I'm sure they are hoping to get you to slip up on something so they can have your testimony thrown out.
     
  4. Sep 11, 2008 #3

    lisab

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    Maybe I should stop talking to them. I don't think I have a legal obligation to do so.
     
  5. Sep 11, 2008 #4

    cristo

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    As Evo says, this will probably go on until you say something that makes your statement admissible. I would just answer their questions with "no comment," and then put the phone down. You don't have to talk to them, and clearly it's annoying, if not upsetting for you.
     
  6. Sep 11, 2008 #5
    sue 'em
     
  7. Sep 11, 2008 #6

    Evo

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    Once you've given a statement to the officer, that should be the end of it, until you are called to sit in court and testify. It's always good to write down the events as soon as possible so people can't get you confused later.
     
  8. Sep 11, 2008 #7
    Especially since, while you think it is burned into your memory, two years is a long time
     
  9. Sep 11, 2008 #8

    turbo

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    I think what they are doing is witness tampering, lisab. You have made your statement to the police, and the lawyers' next chance to legally question you is in a sworn deposition. They will ask you to attend a deposition, and if you refuse they can subpoena you to compel you to attend. At that time, a court reporter will swear you in, and the lawyers from both sides get to ask you questions under oath. Your answers are subject to the same rules as if you gave them in a court of law, so it's a good idea to give answers that are brief and to the point and honest. NEVER answer a question that you feel is leading or is worded in a way that can be subject to interpretation - you have the right to ask for any question to be explained and rephrased if necessary.

    If you know what court has jurisdiction over the case, it might be a good idea to contact the clerk of that court and explain to him or her just what your concerns are - they should be able to give you guidance as to what is and is not permissible contact between the lawyers and potential witness. If indeed they feel that the family's lawyers are harassing you a judge has a number of remedies at his disposal to stop that behavior. Good luck.
     
  10. Sep 11, 2008 #9

    Astronuc

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    My wife went through something similar. An elderly couple did a left turn into oncoming traffic. The old guy didn't even yield. A young kid (~18 or 19) plowed right into the old guy. The old guy's lawyer called us and tried to convince my wife that it was the kid's fault! I couldn't believe it. She told them - NO! and that she'd given a statement.

    It is highly unethical for a lawyer to coax someone to change their testimony. To them it's a game.

    I've always expected the practice of law to be the search for truth and justice. Apparently some lawyers (and politicians) don't see it that way. :grumpy:
     
  11. Sep 11, 2008 #10
    It's okay when Matlock does it, but if it doesn't sound like Andy Griffith on the phone just hang up.
     
  12. Sep 11, 2008 #11
    Hang up the phone on them Lisa. Too much is at stake here.
     
  13. Sep 11, 2008 #12
    I worked with a guy who got his arm twisted off by a conveyor belt. He wanted me to testify for him. Unfortunately just a week or two earlier I had filled out a survey for the company that asked what the best and worst things about my job were and under worst I put "working with Bill, he's either going to kill himself or someone else."
     
  14. Sep 11, 2008 #13

    JasonRox

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    Do not answer the phone. Do not comment.

    I can't believe their child passes away in a horrific accident and all the family can think about is money. Sad... sad.
     
  15. Sep 11, 2008 #14

    Moonbear

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    I would just tell them that you've already given your statement to the police and have nothing more to add; if they keep calling, keep track of when they call and what they say to you. If it goes to trial, I think it's worth mentioning this to the judge if you're called as a witness. Let the judge decide if their actions were ethical or within reasonable legal bounds.
     
  16. Sep 11, 2008 #15

    Borek

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    Not necesarilly family. Shark between lawyers looks like toothless earthworm.
     
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