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One of the most difficult jobs an attorney faces, in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, is making a jury understand the devastating effects that an injury or loss has made in their clients’ daily lives and the quality of that life.

Expert witnesses such as doctors, engineers and economists can explain in cold technical terms what has happened and what can be expected in the future, but it is key that a jury is made to understand, on an emotional level rather than an intellectual level, what has transpired.

To accomplish this there are no better tools than quality B&A (Before and After) witnesses. These are people who can come into court and share memories of the life that once was and make a jury understand, on a human level, how it was changed by the events that lead to the case they are listening to.

This is especially important when injuries are not self evident, as in mental and emotional problems or minor injuries that don’t leave visible scars for the jury members to be able to see as a tangible sign of damage.

Who makes a good before and after witness?

1. The first requirement that a quality before and after witness should meet is that it should be someone close to you, but not too close. While best friends and family members may seem like obvious choices, they could be construed as being in a position to profit from you winning your case.

Coworkers, casual friends, managers and others that are in a position to know you well, but are not in a position to be swayed by you or the opportunity for profit, make the best witnesses. These people can speak about any difficulties that you may be having, personality or mood swings that you have suffered or other changes that have taken place in your life since the accident.

2. Your chosen witnesses should be of good character. While few, if any, in this world are spotless, it is simply a fact of life that some people are taken more seriously than others and right or wrong considered to be more honest.

The pastor of your church or a teacher is a better witness than a rock star friend. Not because they are necessarily more honest, but because people perceive them to be of higher credibility.

3. Lastly, they should be willing to testify on your behalf.

While you can put virtually anyone’s name on your witness list and have them subpoenaed to testify, it is a matter of courtesy to ask people, beforehand, if they are willing to speak on your behalf before you place them on your list and disrupt their lives.

Their Importance

The beauty of the B&A witness is that they have no financial interest in the case’s outcome; do not speak in abstract, technical terms and are not polished professional witnesses. They are everyday folks, same as the people in the jury box, that the jury members can relate to. They put a human face on your case.

Without them, many times, it is a matter of who the jury will believe, your doctors or the insurance companies. With good B&A witnesses you can refute the defense’s testimony and therefore their case with real anecdotes that the jury can relate to.

The defense doctors are going to deny or at least minimize your problems, that is what they are paid to do. However, when your manager tells how you have gone from his/her go to person to someone plagued with anxiety attacks or a neighbor talks about how you always played football with the neighborhood kids, but now sit on the porch, staring into space, it places your injuries in human terms, rather than technical terms, this way they can feel your pain as their own.