When two drivers are in an accident, conflicting versions of events may arise. The situation can easily become a he-said-she-said one. In these circumstances, having a third-party witness can help the insurance company confirm the actual version of events. Having a witness to your car accident can greatly impact your case. Your witness can completely make or break your claim depending on specific case details. In this blog post, we are going to discuss the impact having witnesses to a car accident has on your case, who qualifies as a witness, credibility questions of third-party onlookers, and other important details about eyewitness testimony in an auto accident claim.
If you've been in an accident that's impacted you financially, physically, or emotionally, give our auto accident attorneys at Impact Legal a call or text today. We will review your case at no charge in an initial consultation. If you're in Arizona, call or text 602-345-1818. If you're in New Mexico, call or text 505-386-2807. Additionally, you may request your free consultation by filling out our convenient online form.
The Impact of a Witness Statement
After an auto accident, an initial question that insurance adjusters want to know is if there were any witnesses to the collision besides the drivers. Typically, after an accident, there may be conflicting details, and the adjuster is looking to confirm a specific version of events. An insurance adjuster can usually put together the sequence of events that most likely happened based on the third-party witness statement. In situations where finger-pointing is occurring, witness statements can be highly important to a claim. Here are a few instances where an objective perspective can come in handy:
- Proving someone's innocence - Witness statements may decrease or completely eliminate liability in an accident. Often at-fault parties will point fingers at the other driver in an effort to reduce their own liability and payout less in any potential settlements against them.
- Providing additional evidence - Sometimes a witness may have photos, videos from his or her point of view, or other information that helps prove a case one way or the other.
- Proving negligence - Sometimes a third party may witness the at-fault driver doing something that proves he or she was negligent. For example, if the at-fault driver ran a stop sign or was seen texting before the crash occurred, this witness statement could prove that the other driver's negligent actions caused the collision.
- Confirming and discrediting injuries - A witness statement may help convince the insurance adjuster or court that you were injured in the accident. The witness may attest that when you exited the vehicle, you were limping or in a lot of pain. Alternatively, a third-party perspective may invalidate an exaggerated or made-up injury by stating that the allegedly injured party was moving around and walking normally at the scene of the accident.
Who Can Be a Witness?
If you are able to do so, gather potential witness information at the scene of the accident. Any onlooker who may have seen the accident could potentially be a witness. Some potential examples of eyewitnesses to an accident may include:
- Drivers and passengers in other vehicles
- Anyone who stopped to help after the accident
- Residents that live nearby who may have seen or heard the crash
- Business owners, employees, customers, visitors in the vicinity of the accident
- Cyclists, walkers, runners, etc who may have been in the area when the accident occurred
If you identify someone who may be a potential witness, ask them if they mind providing a statement and giving you their contact information. With their permission, see if you can get their statement on audio or video on your phone. You may also ask if they mind writing down what they saw with the date and their signature.
Gaining a witness statement from someone who may later be discredited could negatively impact your case. When you are attempting to find witnesses, reliability and honesty are just as important as a statement supporting your claim.
Examples of circumstances that can be a factor in determining witness credibility:
- Did the witness observe the entire accident or were they drawn to the sound of impact?
- Was the witness intoxicated during their observation?
- Was the witness relying on what they saw or were they including observations of another person?
- Does the witness know any of the drivers involved in the car accident?
- Was the witness close enough to the scene to know what actually happened?
- Does the witness seem to have problems with memory or does their account change every time they give it?
- Is the witness a felon or a person who has been convicted of crimes?
- If the witness has vision impairment, were they wearing their prescribed contacts or glasses when they observed the car accident?
- Do they appear to be a believable witness that is honest and stable?
Contact an Accident Lawyer
If you've been injured in an accident, call or text our auto accident attorneys at 602-345-1818 today to learn more about your potential legal options. Don't wait – we offer completely free case reviews, so be sure to schedule yours as soon as possible to learn more about your best next steps. Were you partially to blame for the accident? Don't let partial liability stop you from reaching out to a car accident lawyer. In Arizona and New Mexico, we use comparative negligence to determine liability, which means, even if you contributed a percentage of fault in the accident, you may still be entitled to some compensation to help you recover. To find out more, call, text, or fill out our online form here.