Tips on how to gather essential information after an accident
When you’re involved in a car vehicle accident, it’s important to ensure you have as much evidence as possible to support your claim. In many cases, one of the strongest sources of evidence you can present is the testimony of an eyewitness.
It’s not uncommon for the insurance company of the negligent driver to dispute your claims. In order to obtain the compensation you deserve, you must be able to prove the other driver was at fault. A car accident witness can help you accomplish this.
How a car accident witness statement can help
Naturally, the injured party in a motor vehicle accident may be perceived as somewhat biased because of their vested interests in the case. Another witness to the accident can help support your testimony while also verifying corroborating details. Their testimony can be crucial to proving you weren't at fault for the accident and can increase your ability to obtain a successful outcome in your case.
Witnesses are often the key to preserving the facts associated with a car accident case. Along with proving your own innocence, a witness may be beneficial in proving the negligence of the other driver. For example, a witness may have recorded a video, taken photos of the crash or observed the other driver texting or acting irresponsibly. Witnesses may also be able to validate the injuries you sustained during the accident.
Types of car accident witnesses
Generally speaking, there are 3 different types of car accident witnesses.
Witness to the accident
The 1st type of witness is someone who saw the wreck occur. This is an individual who actually witnessed the accident and is able to provide details about the accident because they saw it firsthand.
Car accident victims often ask the question: Can a passenger be a witness in a car accident? The answer is yes. Potential witnesses can include passengers in either vehicle, as well as bystanders and pedestrians. The ideal witness, however, is someone who is completely neutral—meaning they have absolutely no stake in the outcome of your case.
Witness to the injuries
Another type of witness is someone who may not have witnessed the accident itself but has witnessed the injuries you sustained as a result of the accident. This type of witness can be helpful in situations where the insurance company of the other party is disputing the existence or severity of the injuries you sustained during the accident.
Possible such witnesses may include your family, friends and even co-workers. Not only can these witnesses verify the existence of your injuries but also how those injuries have impacted your ability to perform daily activities.
Expert witnesses are people who have specialized knowledge in a specific field. They can be obtained through your attorney and provide an in-depth analysis of the circumstances surrounding your accident and how you were affected. Expert witnesses in car accident cases may include:
- A physician to verify the extent of your injuries
- A mental health expert to explain how the accident affected your mental and emotional well-being to determine potential damages for pain and suffering
- An engineer or highway safety expert to offer an opinion about the road and safety conditions on the day of the accident
- A law enforcement officer
- An accident reconstructionist to help reconstruct the circumstances that led to the accident and show fault
- An economist to help determine how the accident might affect your finances and future earning ability
Collecting car accident witness statements
The process of collecting witness statements should ideally begin at the scene of the accident. If you’re able to do so, try to identify any individual who may have been a witness to the accident. This could include anyone who stopped to assist with the accident, pedestrians, business owners or workers in the area of the accident, drivers, passengers of other vehicles and anyone who lives nearby.
Begin by asking potential witnesses to provide as many details as possible about what they observed before, during and in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Also, inquire if they saw or heard anything unusual before the accident or if they noticed the driver texting on their phone, speeding, changing lanes without signaling or otherwise driving recklessly. Make sure to note if the witness mentions the other driver was drifting or swerving out of their lane prior to the accident, which could be an indication of drunk driving.
Be sure to obtain their contact information, including name, phone number and home address, and ask if they would be willing to provide a witness statement. When possible, ask if they would be willing to provide a video or audio recording as well.
Credibility of car accident witnesses
While an eyewitness can often be helpful in proving fault in a car accident case, the witness needs to be considered trustworthy. Unfortunately, not all witnesses are credible, and because events tend to occur rather quickly in an accident, the observations of a 3rd-party witness are often considered unreliable.
Some factors that can impact the credibility of a witness include:
- Whether the witness was a pedestrian or another driver
- Whether the witness was able to observe the accident in its entirety
- Whether the witness had a clear view of the accidents and events leading up to it
- Whether the witness was potentially distracted by trying to avoid the accident or by other extraneous factors, such as talking to a passenger or being on their phone
The character of the witness is also important. The following factors may be considered by the defense in determining witness credibility:
- Does the witness have any history of legal issues?
- Does the witness have any history of dishonest behavior or questionable judgment?
- Does the witness have a history of drug or alcohol abuse?
- Does the witness have any stake in the lawsuit? Are they a friend or family member of either driver?
The physical and mental condition of the witness at the time of the accident must also be considered. For example, does the witness suffer from any problems related to their hearing or eyesight? If so, was the witness wearing corrective lenses or a hearing aid at the time of the accident? Was the witness under the influence of alcohol or any type of controlled substance at the time of the accident? What is the memory of the witness like? Do they have a history of any cognitive issues like confusion or memory loss?
Obtaining legal assistance after your California car accident
Because car accident cases often involve a number of witnesses whose memories can fade and stories may change over time, it’s always a good idea to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible after any car accident. An attorney can help with obtaining witness statements and determine whether those witnesses are credible. They can also assist with determining whether any expert witnesses may be needed to help with your case.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in California or Texas, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at MVP Accident Attorneys. Our firm specializes in personal injury law, and our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for our thousands of satisfied clients over the years.
We never charge you a fee unless we win your case, so contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation to see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.