What is the Value of Credible Witnesses in Nursing Home Abuse Claims?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on May 24, 2021 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on April 24, 2024

folded hands of an elderly woman in wheelchairAbuse is a prevalent issue in many nursing homes. If a resident has suffered abuse because of a nursing home’s negligence, the victim – or his or her family – may be eligible to seek compensation for the damages. Recovering compensation for injured residents through a legal claim is a long and difficult process. Having an eyewitness testify or an expert witness explain both the physical and emotional impact of the abuse may significantly strengthen a plaintiff’s claim.

PKSD discusses more about the traits that make a witness for a nursing home abuse claim both credible and valuable.

If your loved one suffered abuse in his or her nursing home, we are prepared to help. Our trusted nursing home abuse lawyers in Wisconsin are deeply committed to protecting the elderly and fighting to hold at-fault parties accountable for their actions.

Call for a free case review today. 414-333-3333

Types of Witnesses That May Help a Nursing Home Abuse Claim

There are different types of witnesses that may be used to support a claim of nursing home abuse.


An eyewitness may be someone who saw the abuse occur firsthand. In some cases, a doctor or other medical provider who cared for the victim after the attack may also be able to provide testimony regarding the damages the victim sustained.

The testimony of this type of witness can only be about what they personally observed. It cannot include any opinions or assumptions the witness has. Quite literally, an eyewitness may only provide testimony regarding the facts of what that individual observed and can personally relate.

An eyewitness could include:

  • Resident: If the injured victim is physically and mentally able to relay what happened, he or she may be eligible to provide testimony on his or her behalf. However, often the mental and/or physical state of a victim who suffered abuse in a nursing home may make his or her testimony less reliable.
  • Other facility residents: While it is possible another resident may have witnessed the attack of the victim, the same challenges exist with any testimony they may be able to relate.
  • Nursing home staff or other caregivers: Sometimes another staff member or caregiver may have seen what happened and can provide testimony on behalf of the victim.
  • Visitors who were at the facility: Though less common, a visitor at the facility at the time of the attack may have seen what happened. Alternatively, a family member visiting his or her loved one may see the injuries and other evidence that the victim was harmed by another resident or nursing home caregiver.
  • Doctors or other health care professionals: Medical professionals who cared for the victim after the attack can attest to the damages sustained.

Expert Witness

Witnesses who are established as leading authorities in their field may be selected to provide expert testimony for a case and may include:

  • Medical professionals or specialists – often called to provide testimony about the type and severity of injuries a victim sustained, as well as what could have caused that type of injury.
  • Psychologists – in a nursing home abuse claim, a psychologist may be able to relate the psychological damages a nursing home victim suffered in the attack.
  • Pharmacists – A pharmacist may be used to discuss any medications, such as a chemical restraint, given to the patient.
  • Economists – Financial experts who may calculate and testify regarding the value of damages the victim sustained.

What Traits Make a Witness Credible?

Simply having an eyewitness or authoritative expert testify may not be enough, especially in cases of nursing home abuse.

For example, an eyewitness who habitually lies to others is likely not a good choice as a credible witness.

What qualities or traits help to ensure you have a credible, reliable and authoritative witness?

Credible Eyewitness

An eyewitness may significantly impact the strength of a case, particularly if it goes to trial. However, an unreliable witness may do more harm than good. Therefore, it is important that you or an attorney confirm that your eyewitness:

  • Is able to consistently and easily recall and communicate the event
  • Has the ability to understand and respond to questions
  • Demonstrates a moral ability to communicate what happened truthfully

Expert Witness

An expert witness provides a different kind of testimony in a nursing home abuse claim. This individual should not only have special knowledge or training, but must also be able to communicate what he or she knows to others in a confident, authoritative and easy-to-understand manner. Other traits may include:

  • Qualified – having the qualifications and being highly respected in his or her field
  • Credibility – the ability to gain the trust of the jury and not come off as a “plaintiff-based” witness
  • Prepared – having a professional physical appearance and paying attention to detail when testifying
  • Consistency – especially if called upon to give testimony multiple times
  • A friendly demeanor – the ability to translate likeability is often connected to the perception of trustworthiness
  • The ability to “teach” the jury and enlighten them about a difficult subject

Call Our Firm for Experienced Legal Help

At PKSD, we have decades of experience representing injured victims in Wisconsin, including those injured due to nursing home abuse. We have recovered millions on behalf of our clients, including $1,750,000 for the assault of a resident.

If you suspect your loved one has been abused in his or her nursing home, it is important to take steps to protect their immediate safety. Contact our firm to learn more about how we may be able to help. There is no cost or obligation for an initial consultation, and if we represent you, nothing to pay up front or while we work on your case.

PKSD. Experienced Lawyers Working for You. 414-333-3333

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