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Definition - What does Affidavit mean?

An affidavit is a statement or declaration of the facts of a personal injury case. The affidavit is made voluntarily and taken under oath. The affidavit allows the witnesses, defendant or plaintiff to establish the facts of an accident. They are common in civil as well as criminal cases. The statement is often witnessed by a clerk of the court or a notary public.

For example, it is common for witnesses to give affidavits after a car accident. Witnesses may give information which can be used as evidence at the trial, including information about a driver drinking prior to a crash. Affidavits are also used in workers' compensation cases where a co-worker gives testimony about the extent of a worker's injuries or what they were doing at the time they were injured.

Affidavits should be obtained immediately following the injury in case there is a death of the witness prior to trial or the witnesses move to a new jurisdiction.

Affidavits vs. Depositions

There are several differences between affidavits and depositions. For instance, the deposition can be required by the court, while the affidavit includes statements which are freely given. The deposition also allows for cross-examination of the witness by opposing counsel; the affidavit does not.

An affidavit does not carry as much weight in court as a deposition, but if you provide an affidavit you also may be asked to attend a deposition so the opposing attorney can question you further and find out more information about the personal injury case. The affidavit may also be used in court as evidence. Anyone providing information for an affidavit should speak the truth and only provide correct statements. Providing false information on an affidavit is illegal.

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