Drivers involved in a car accident often have different perspectives of what occurred. Competing accounts of the events make it difficult for insurance company adjusters and the courts to determine fault. A statement of events from a neutral third-party witness can provide an unbiased account of what occurred and can affect your car accident claim.
If you’ve suffered physical and financial damages as the result of another’s negligence, a credible witness statement may be necessary to support your claim. Contact an experienced car accident attorney to help establish liability and recover appropriate compensation.
What Is a Third-Party Witness?
A third-party witness is someone who has no connection to you or the other driver and can give an objective account of what they observed. The information they provide may be more accurate than either driver’s recollection because they’re not an invested participant. They could also provide additional details that neither you nor the other party remembers.
It’s important to obtain the witness’ statement as soon as possible after the accident while their memory is fresh. If their recall of the chain of events corroborates your version, it can significantly impact the insurance adjuster or court’s decision.
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Why Witness Statements Are Important for Your Car Accident Claim
After an accident, you may expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to fairly compensate you for your injuries and property damage. The reality, however, is that you often need to fight for your rights. While an insurance adjuster is required to adhere to the state’s department of insurance standard of conduct, it’s their job to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the accident and challenge your claim.
As a representative for the insurance company, an adjuster works in the best interest of that agency. Without verifiable proof that the other driver caused the accident, they may either deny your claim outright or offer a minimal settlement. A credible witness account of what occurred can help you prove the other driver’s negligence.
Factors that Affect Witness Credibility
Many variables can affect witness credibility. Remember, it’s in the insurance company’s best interest for the adjuster to call into question the validity of the witness’ statement. The larger the claim, the greater the motivation to find holes in their character or account of events.
Some contributing factors used to determine a witness’s credibility include the following:
Location or Vantage Point
One critical factor in determining the validity of a witness’ statement is establishing how well they could see what was happening and how long they observed the incident. For example:
- Did the witness have a clear view of the accident?
- Did the witness see the events leading up to and including the accident?
- Does the witness’s account begin when they heard honking horns or squealing tires?
Witness’s Activities Prior to the Accident
Another key element in establishing witness credibility is identifying their level of focus or distraction during the event. For example, it may affect witness credibility if they were another driver or bicyclist who was trying to avoid the accident; a pedestrian who was distracted by other events, such as a barking dog; or talking to other people when the accident occurred.
Documented health issues could have some bearing on how well the witness processed the events, such as if they:
- Have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia
- Have poor hearing or eyesight and were wearing prescribed hearing aids or glasses when they observed the accident
- Were inebriated
If a witness’s character is called into question through dishonesty, inconsistency, or exaggeration, their statements may be dismissed as unbelievable. For example, if they:
- Have a history of reporting questionable events or complaints
- Have something to gain through a connection to either driver
- Are a convicted felon
A claims adjuster will contact each witness and ask them for a recorded statement of what they recall about the accident. They’ll assess credibility by determining if what the witness describes matches the information they provided at the accident site.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
After a vehicle accident, your health should be your first concern. You may not have had the opportunity to connect with witnesses because you required immediate medical attention. An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate the circumstances that contributed to the collision.
Locate Credible and Unbiased Witnesses
You might feel that you’ve lost the opportunity to gather crucial evidence if no one came forward at the time of the accident. However, a law firm with the appropriate resources can employ an investigator to identify witnesses who may provide an unbiased account of what occurred.
Credible third-party witnesses could include road or utility workers, restaurant workers or patrons, neighborhood residents, or store owners.
Interview Potential Witnesses
The attorney’s team can interview and vet each potential witness, evaluating credibility before putting names forward in your case. Realizing that memories and crucial evidence can fade with time, a detail-oriented lawyer investigates and interviews witnesses efficiently and promptly.
Show Inconsistencies in Others’ Statements
An attorney’s team also evaluates statements made by the other driver, passengers in the other vehicle, and any witnesses who came forward for them. Your lawyer can uncover and demand an explanation for inconsistencies in an individual’s testimony over time or marked differences between each of the witness’ statements.
Utilize Security Cameras
Security and traffic cameras seem to be everywhere and can serve as valuable witnesses that can help prove your case. With a thorough investigation of all possible resources, an attorney’s team could discover surveillance footage from a camera connected to a nearby residence, gas station, convenience store, or intersection crossing light that reveals what transpired. Your car accident lawyer can file a subpoena to receive a copy of the pertinent footage.
Contact Morris Bart to Represent Your Best Interests
If you’ve suffered personal injury and property damage in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need an experienced attorney to help you gather valuable evidence. Locating and interviewing credible third-party witnesses can make a critical difference in receiving the compensation to which you may be entitled.
Contact Morris Bart, LLC, for a free no-obligation consultation. One of the knowledgeable car accident attorneys can evaluate your unique situation and advise you on how to proceed effectively.
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