Can you testify in your own accident case after a brain injury?

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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As you drive on California’s busy streets and highways, an accident can happen out of nowhere. One of the greatest fears in the case of a motor vehicle accident is the fear of suffering a brain injury. While some brain injuries are mild, others can lead to permanent impairment ranging from minor cognitive and functional difficulties to complete loss of capacity. A severe enough brain injury can lead to coma or death. If you pursue a suit in the case of a motor vehicle accident and resulting brain injury, are you able to testify in your own trial?

The answer lies in California’s laws regarding mental competency. According to the California state courts, mental competency proceedings may be required to determine whether or not you are fit to provide reliable testimony. Competency proceedings may also be ordered if the veracity or reliability of your testimony or claim is called into question. A mental competency hearing may also be required to determine the extent of brain injury as evidence in your claim.

Trial proceedings may be temporarily suspended in the event of a mandatory mental competency hearing. Hearings are generally conducted by a court-appointed professional with qualifications in mental health and competency. A judge may make a determination regarding continuing trial proceedings or determining liability in the trial based on the court-appointed professional’s findings. Pertinent details of your case may impact the final decision, and whether further steps are required to pursue the case.

This information is meant to serve as reference only, and does not constitute any form of legal advice or recommendation.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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