Car Accidents Claims and Witnesses | Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.
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How Witnesses Help Chicago Car Accident Claims

Written by Jared Staver

Read Jared's Bio

Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents

When you pursue an injury claim, you need evidence. Car accidents are complex events; your evidence might include physical evidence (such as skid marks left on the pavement), documentary evidence (such as medical records and traffic camera video), and expert testimony to tell the story of your accident.

One of the most important sources of evidence comes from fact witnesses. Unlike expert witnesses, who render opinions about what the evidence means, fact witnesses testify about what they observed and how they responded.

How Do Witnesses Benefit Car Accident Claims?

If you or a loved one are injured in a car accident, you’ve probably been told that getting car accident witness statements is very important.

Witnesses are helpful because they give context and a story to the accident. They can break a deadlock between the stories you and the other driver tell. They may even add a missing piece, such as testimony from a hit-and-run witness.

Anyone, including you and your passengers, can testify. The best witnesses are unbiased, neutral bystanders with good vision and memories. Solid witnesses can help insurance adjusters or jurors determine who was at fault for the accident.

Using Witness Testimony in Your Car Accident Claim

Using witness testimony after your Chicago car accident begins by identifying the gaps in your case and locating a witness who can give a witness statement to fill in that gap. For example, suppose you and the other driver agree on everything except who arrived at the stop sign first. You and your passenger say you arrived first, and the other driver says they arrived first.

You find an unbiased accident witness who agrees that you arrived first and had the right-of-way. Your lawyer will interview the witness, take an insurance witness statement, and submit it with your claim.

Don’t Just Rely on Witness Statements

While eyewitnesses are helpful, they will not make a case by themselves. You will typically use different kinds of evidence to prove various aspects of your case.

Eyewitnesses, photos, video, and forensic evidence will help to prove how the accident happened. Your testimony will explain your injuries. Documentary evidence, such as medical bills and receipts, proves your losses.

You also need to know the drawbacks of witnesses. The insurance company gets to cross-examine them in court. This cross-examination can expose:

  • Unreliability in what they saw or how they remembered it
  • Bias in how they presented it
  • Inconsistency in the story they have told

The insurer can also present its witnesses to tell a conflicting story supporting the other driver’s side. An experienced lawyer will know when fact witnesses will help your case. They also know how to protect them during cross-examination and impeachment.

Chicago Car Accident Witness FAQs

Here are some answers to common questions people ask about using witnesses as part of their car accident claims:

How Do I Know a Witness is Credible?

There is no magic formula for determining the credibility of witnesses. Instead, be aware of how an insurance lawyer could discredit your witness. These include showing:

  • Financial interest in the case’s outcome
  • Inconsistent statements in the case
  • Bias against the insurer or at-fault driver
  • Bias favoring you
  • Criminal record of fraud, perjury, or another crime of dishonesty
  • Poor eyesight or vantage point
  • Memory issues
  • Drug or alcohol use at the time of the accident

Any one of these might discredit a witness’s testimony.

How Do I Find Witnesses After an Accident?

Lawyers use several techniques to find witnesses. The most reliable is to get names from the accident report. During the initial crash investigation, the police will talk to witnesses. The accident report will identify anyone the police interviewed. Your lawyer can also talk to employees at businesses near the crash scene to determine whether anyone saw or heard anything useful.

What if There Aren’t Witnesses?

There is always at least one person to witness an accident. You can give testimony about what you saw and heard that day. But your testimony carries an inherent bias, even if you have a reputation for honesty.

You can back up your testimony with documentary evidence, such as videos or photos that support your story. The conclusions reached in accident reports are typically inadmissible hearsay. But they can provide a basis for expert testimony by the officer who wrote it. This type of testimony is limited. The officer can usually give opinions about how the crash happened or how fast a car was going based on what they observed, but they can’t state who is legally responsible for it.

Why Do Witnesses Matter after a Car Crash?

You have the burden of proving your claim. You do this with evidence, including witness testimony. Insurers will hold your feet to the fire to prove your case. Witnesses protect a claim and help you secure fair compensation.

Do I Need a Lawyer’s Help with Car Accident Witnesses?

Lawyers play two roles. First, they can identify, interview, and determine the credibility of witnesses. Second, they can assemble your case, slotting in witness testimony where needed. The strength of your case will determine your likelihood of success in negotiation or at trial if negotiations fail.

Call a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Now

A Chicago car accident witness can go a long way to support you when you’re filing a car accident claim. However, you want a credible witness that adds something to your case rather than providing cumulative testimony.

Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. has extensive experience using witnesses in insurance claims and litigation. We know when and how to use testimony from a witness to a car accident to tell your story while pursuing fair injury compensation.

Contact us online or at (312) 236-2900 to learn how we can help you. We offer 100% free consults, and there’s no cost unless you recover compensation.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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