Credible witness statements can have a tremendous impact on your car accident case, but how do you find one? Once you find a credible and cooperative witness, what's the best way to have them give a statement? How do you maximize the number of reliable witness statements to use in your case? We will answer these questions, and more, in this article.
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Why are Witness Statements Important?
It is common in car accidents not to have any witnesses other than the drivers involved. Many of those cases result in each driver accusing the other of being the one at-fault. However, it isn't good enough to accuse them of being at-fault, it has to be proven. For this reason, it is important to find credible witnesses as soon as possible after the accident. Supportive witness statements give your case more credibility. If you can find several witnesses who are saying the same thing you are well on your way to winning the case.
How to Get Credible Witnesses
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?
Advice on Speaking with Witnesses
Naturally, you want the witnesses to agree with your account of the car accident, but you can't make brash or leading statements to them. Saying, “What is wrong with that guy?” or “Didn't you see him run the red light?” will only alienate them.
There are several ways of getting a cooperative witness statement that can be varied depending on what the witness is most comfortable with. At first, ask them to write down their statement, in as much detail as can be recalled. If they aren't wanting to write a statement, ask if you can write what they say and have them sign and date the statement. Recordings are also credible statements, but make sure they include their name and contact information. If someone is in too much of a hurry to give a statement directly after the accident, have them write their name, contact information, email address, and home address (if they are comfortable with it) down. You and your lawyer can meet with them and get their statement at a more convenient time. For information on what else to do after a car accident, check out our article 10 Things to Avoid After a Car Accident.
Increasing your List of Witnesses
Witness statements sometimes have the potential to tip the scales in your favor. Because of this, you want to exhaust all possibilities. If you can't find a witness to give a statement directly after a car accident you still have options to consider. Look at homes and businesses at the location of the accident. It is possible that someone was looking out of the window when it occurred. Security footage and a business's surveillance camera can provide “silent” witness testimony. This is even better than a witness statement; video footage doesn't lie! You can ask a store manager to view the video recorded when the car accident took place. If you have problems seeing the film due to store policy your personal injury lawyer can issue a subpoena to get a copy of the video.
Call a Car Accident Attorney in Santa Fe, New Mexico Today!
Navigating an insurance claim or a courtroom is a skilled arena. Don't take on insurance companies at their own game without hiring a lawyer to represent you. Delaying speaking with a lawyer can be detrimental to your case. We give free consultations to our clients and we want to help you early on. Call (602) 345-1818 today or fill out an online form. Our car accident attorneys in Santa Fe, New Mexico will get you the compensation you deserve.