Eleven-Year-Old Can Testify in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit as a Material Witness
In nearly every personal injury case, the injured plaintiff who is seeking damages from an allegedly at-fault defendant (tortfeasor) will need to prove his or her case (in part or in whole) through the testimony of one or more witnesses. Some personal injury cases will have a multitude of witnesses, while others may only feature the testimony of the injured plaintiff.
Age Restrictions on Witnesses Who Testify
Generally speaking, any individual of sound mind and who is capable of appreciating the responsibility of witnesses to tell the truth may testify in personal injury cases. This means, in theory, that some children would be able to testify as witnesses. Even if a child appreciates the responsibility to tell the truth, however, a judge can rule that a child witness’s testimony is not material. If the judge makes such a ruling, the child may not be permitted to testify.
A Florida trial judge who recently made such a ruling was reversed by the Florida Second District Court of Appeals. In this case, the defendant in an automobile crash sought to have the plaintiff’s 11-year-old son testify concerning how the accident had affected his mother. Although the trial judge ruled against the defendant and entered an order prohibiting the child from testifying, the appellate court found that the child may be in possession of relevant information and should be permitted to testify.
What This Ruling Means for Other Personal Injury Victims and Defendants
Other personal injury litigants should take note of this recent ruling and its implications. In some cases, children of litigants may be available to be called as witnesses in their parents’ personal injury lawsuits. Whereas one might expect most litigants to testify in a manner that they perceive to be most helpful to their case, children (especially younger children) may be intimidated by the lawyers or judge and be more likely to give conflicting testimony which may hurt their parents’ personal injury case.
How Roman & Roman May Be Able to Assist You
If you are involved in a Florida car wreck, do not approach another involved motorist’s child or children except if you decide to render aid to that child and the parents agree to let you do so. Instead, take note whether the other involved drivers have children in their vehicles and, if so, the approximate age of these children.
As soon as you are able to, you should speak to the experienced and resourceful Florida personal injury law firm of Roman & Roman. We will help you evaluate the best evidence available to help you prove your claim and obtain monetary damages for your injuries. This includes helping you decide whether it is appropriate to call the other party’s child as a witness in your case or whether your case can be better proven through other evidence and testimony. Call Roman & Roman today at (877) 767-1032 or use our online contact form to obtain prompt and professional assistance.