By X. Alex Carpio, Partner
In most cases there is no need to have lay witnesses unless it involves the issue of compensability. Whether an injury occurred at work? Are you an employee or independent contractor? Did you report the injury to your supervisor? Did you seek medical attention right away?
The questions posed always involve co-workers who may have witnessed the injury or know about the injury. The case becomes a “he said she said” type of case and the judge must determine the credibility of the injured worker versus the other witnesses who will testify. In my experience, the co-workers either do not want to cooperate as they fear they may lose their job or fear other repercussions by the employer.
Early in my career I would bring in all witnesses and almost always the co-workers that were to support my client’s story almost always stated they were not aware of the injury or did not support my client at all. My best witness is my client, the injured worker. Unless I have an affidavit or something signed by a witness stating the facts of the work injury I prefer not to have many lay witnesses as in my experience most of the time the co-workers have been tainted by the employer and now I have 2-5 people testifying against my client.
Unless we have witness statements or relatives that are aware of the work injury it is difficult to predict what the co-worker may or may not say at the hearing despite each witness being under oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.