I was hurt in a car wreck. There is a witness listed on the accident report but he won’t talk to me. I need his help. Can I make someone testify?
You cannot make anyone speak to you. If a lawsuit is filed, you can serve a subpoena on a person who has or allegedly has knowledge about a case. A subpoena is a document issued by a court that requires someone to appear at a stated location and give testimony. A person can be subpoenaed to give testimony for a deposition, hearing or trial.
The mere fact that a person can be commanded to attend a deposition, hearing or trial does not necessarily mean that they will tell the truth about what they observed or know or that they will cooperate. In other words, a subpoena can be used to force someone to show up, but it does not force them to give truthful testimony.
An experienced lawyer can often help persuade someone to cooperate with the litigation process even in the absence of a subpoena. Although no one likes to be inconvenienced by giving testimony in someone else’s case, many people can come to understand that they have a moral obligation to testify truthfully and that by cooperating with the people involved in litigation the likelihood of settlement increases, thus eliminating the need for a deposition or trial.