When accident victims file a claim for compensation and liability (i.e. fault) is disputed, the credibility of the parties involved in the crash can play a critical role. This is so because these “he said/she said” boil down to which party is more credible. In these situations, eyewitness testimony can make a substantial difference in the outcome of a case, but the eyewitnesses must also be credible. Sometimes camera footage is available to demonstrate how a crash occurred, but this footage is often lost or recorded over because it isn’t requested soon enough by the victim. Other times, car crash victims wait too long to retain an attorney, and by the time they do so, the attorney doesn’t have the ability to obtain that footage because it has already been lost or destroyed. In those cases in which there is no video footage, the credibility of the witnesses is paramount. The following reviews several important considerations with respect to witnesses and their credibility.
The Benefit of Retaining a Witness
In any type of accident, an insurance adjuster or jury is likely to believe that the parties are biased witnesses because they have a vested interest in the outcome of the case. While the accident victim is seeking compensation, the defendant wants to do everything possible to avoid a payout. Neutral, third-party witnesses, however, have no stake in the outcome of a case, and these can be the best witnesses to have a trial. These witnesses can play an important role in the outcome of a case. Witnesses often fill in uncertain details in the narrative about how an accident occurred. This testimony can prove invaluable if one of the parties is purposefully leaving out key information.
Who Makes the Best Witness?
When selecting witnesses, it is a good idea to avoid people whose credibility might be questioned. Some examples of witnesses with questionable credibility include people with criminal backgrounds, people who have previously committed perjury, people with a history of mental health instability, extremely young children, and people with poor vision. Some types of people who often make excellent witnesses include workers at nearby businesses, pedestrians who happened to see the crash occur, and people who rendered help immediately after the crash.
Credibility refers to believability or trustworthiness. A witness is considered credible if that witness’s testimony and believability convince a reasonable person that the witness can be trusted. In most cases, credibility is as important an element as the content of the witness’s testimony. Additionally, a witness who lacks credibility could end up damaging a case.
Tips on Obtaining Credible Witnesses
Some helpful advice when searching for witnesses who can substantiate fault in a car accident case include:
- If possible, obtain the names and numbers of anyone who stops to see if everyone involved in the crash was okay. Shockingly, the police do not always obtain and/or provide this information on the police reports.
- Obtain the police report to see if any witnesses identified and if the police report states what the witness saw or heard.
- If there were businesses or homes nearby, those working or living nearby made have witnessed the crash. (In addition, many businesses have cameras that may pick up footage of a crash, and homeowners also now routinely have security cameras that may pick up a crash. It is vital to send out preservation letters to those businesses as soon as possible following a crash to help ensure that the footage isn’t destroyed.)
- Obtaining the 911 call log or recordings can also be a great way to find witnesses because many people may call 911 who don’t stop after seeing a crash.
Obtain the Assistance of an Experienced Car Crash Attorney
A knowledgeable car accident attorney can not only help you identify witnesses, but also figure out how to best utilize testimony that these witnesses provide. At House Law LLC, we understand the challenges commonly faced by car accident victims and remain committed to fighting for the results they deserve. Contact our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation.