The more evidence you can gather in a personal injury claim related to an auto accident, the stronger your case will be. This usually involves bringing in eyewitnesses. In the absence of compelling physical evidence, a claim comes down to what you said versus what the other person said.
Eyewitnesses often offer an unbiased view.
Strong witness testimony can go a long way in proving liability. Witness statements may back up your version of events or prove the other driver’s claims incorrect.
The witness may have been driving near the other driver before the crash in some situations. For example, consider an accident where another driver sideswiped you after drifting into your lane. A witness stops to tell you and the police officer that the other driver was texting on their phone when they passed the witness just prior to the crash.
This indicates that the other driver was negligent, but it also gives your car Chicago accident attorney somewhere to start when it comes to proving the other driver’s errors.
Start with the people in the car with you at the time of the accident. Even if they were distracted when the crash occurred, they may still have information regarding what the crash felt like, what they observed immediately afterward, and the injuries they sustained because of the collision.
Also, look into outside witnesses. These may include emergency responders, people walking or biking by at the time of the crash, and drivers who stop at the scene to help.
In a residential area, you could ask those who were outside or looking out their windows during the crash. In an urban area, consider talking to people dining or shopping in nearby establishments.
Anyone who witnessed the collision or saw anything relevant could be useful in a car accident claim. Those who saw the crash have the most helpful insight. Still, those who saw the other person driving recklessly or ignoring traffic laws prior to the collision could also be a great asset.
To start, you’ll need the witness’s contact information. Try to get their name, phone number, address, and another way to contact them—perhaps an email address or spouse’s phone number. Find out where they were at the time of the accident, what they observed, and where they were going when they stopped.
It’s all about asking the right questions since little details may slip their mind.
Technically, you can get a witness’s contact information after leaving the scene of an accident and at any point in your claim. Whether or not that is possible is a separate question.
Once you and the witness leave the crash scene, it is much more difficult to find out who they are and how to get ahold of them.
You may have to resort to tracking them down on social media, posting questions in community forums, and trying to track them down via their workplace or whatever other information you have. This is time-consuming and frustrating. On top of that, the longer you wait to contact a witness, the more they are likely to forget about the accident.
A lot affects a witness’s credibility. While input from a passenger in your car can be useful, it’s unlikely to be as valuable as the input of someone who has no tie to either driver. A completely neutral third party is likely a more helpful option.
The witness’s location during the crash matters. If they were driving, for example, they were likely not focused on the details of the accident. They were probably trying to avoid getting hit in the crash. However, if they had a good view of everything happening, they would be considered more credible. Any distractions affecting them at the time of the crash could also keep them from being deemed credible.
A car accident witness may be considered un-credible if they have a financial stake in the claim, a relevant criminal history, a suspicious history of involvement in car accident claims, or a mental condition that could cause them to forget details about the crash.
If a witness can back up their observations with measurable facts rather than opinions, that will help the validity of what they say. While opinion may be helpful in testimony, facts are much more important.
Consistency is also an essential part of credibility. If a witness’s retelling changes over time, the insurance company will question them.
Unfortunately, an un-credible witness could hinder your accident claim. If the insurance company thinks your witness isn’t believable, they may just ignore their testimony completely. Their testimony could make the insurance company doubt your claim.
When the insurance provider thinks you are fabricating your claim, plan on fighting tooth and nail to get a fair settlement.
As you can see, compelling witness testimony significantly impacts car accident claims, including faster settlements, more compensation, and an easier time establishing negligence. It can also complicate your case and cast doubt on what happened.
When your car accident claim involves witness statements, it’s best to have an experienced car accident lawyer assess the possible impact on your claim.
At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, we know what it takes to build a credible, compelling claim that involves witnesses. Let us use our experience and insurance industry knowledge to your benefit. Call us at 312-736-0763 or contact our team online to schedule a free consultation.