An affidavit is a written statement of facts that a public official has certified. Black’s Law Dictionary defines an affidavit as “a written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before an officer having authority to administer such oath.” An attorney may present an affidavit as evidence in various types of cases.
In personal injury cases, affidavits are essentially one party’s or a witness’s take on the incident or on certain elements of the case. The person writing the affidavit—the “affiant”— must record his or her affidavit on paper while an official witnesses the signature.
An affidavit must have three components:
- A written explanation of the facts of the case from the affiant;
- The affiant’s signature;
- The signature of an authorized witness verifying the affidavit.
What is the difference between an affidavit and a sworn statement?
Sworn statements and affidavits are very similar. They both contain the same kinds of statements and lawyers may use either to substantiate the facts of their case. The primary difference pertains to the degree of veracity of the documents. Sworn statements only have a final “endorsement paragraph” at the end where the author attests to the truth of his or her statements, while an affidavit includes the signature and certification of an official, such as a court official or notary public.
As such, affidavits are typically considered more reliable as evidence and preferred in court cases.
How can an affidavit affect a personal injury case?
Lawyers often use affidavits in personal injury cases as supportive evidence. For instance, if an insurer says that a slip and fall victim’s injuries were pre-existing, the victim’s lawyer may ask his client to provide an affidavit that states that she did not have any neck injuries or symptoms at her last doctor’s visit prior to the accident.
Affidavits are also useful for witnesses. A witness to an accident can provide an affidavit that explains the events he saw take place. These affidavits are especially helpful when the witness is not able to appear in court due to location or illness.
Similarly, a family member, friend, co-worker, or other knowledgeable party can shed light on the severity of the victim’s injuries in an affidavit and explain how the injuries are impacting his life and ability to work.
Do I need an attorney to help me with an affidavit?
You must write and certify an affidavit correctly for the court to deem it admissible as evidence. An affidavit should contain only pertinent information. To avoid making costly mistakes with affidavits or any other aspect of your case, seek advice from one of our personal injury attorneys.
Our lawyers at Berger and Green have been helping people in Pennsylvania with their injury and disability cases for over 40 years. We would be glad to assess your case and advise you of your rights and options and, if necessary, facilitate the creation of an affidavit. Contact our office today at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.