In many car accident situations, the only witnesses to the accident are the drivers involved. In those circumstances, it is one driver’s word against the other, which does little to help determine fault. Each driver will blame the other driver to avoid liability. A third-party witness can be extremely helpful in determining fault because they tend to be unbiased in their report of events.
An insurance adjuster or judge needs to have a clear picture of the accident, but drivers often have competing versions of the accident. The testimony of an eyewitness usually supports one version of events more than the other. Having the support of an eyewitness can help a claim or personal injury lawsuit considerably. A skilled lawyer will be able to help you identify any witnesses to the accident and obtain statements from them.
How Is Car Accident Eyewitness Credibility Established?
Witness statements can be crucial evidence used to determine fault after a collision. Just because someone saw the accident, however, does not mean they are a credible witness. You should discuss witness testimony with your California car accident lawyer. An attorney can help determine whether or not the witness’s testimony is helpful to your claim. Before your lawyer deems someone a viable witness, your lawyers should vet the eyewitness. Your attorney will consider the following when vetting an eyewitness:
- The witness’s criminal history
- The witness’s relationship to the drivers
- The witness’s reputation and moral character
- The witness’s mental state at the time of the accident
- Whether the witness was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- What the witness was doing during the time of the accident
- Whether the witness was distracted at the time of the accident
- Whether the witness saw the accident from start to finish
- The witness’s location at the time of the accident
- The witness’s vantage point of the accident
- The witness’s physical condition (e., poor eyesight or hearing)
- The consistency of the witness statement
While a credible witness can strengthen a claim, a witness that lacks credibility can significantly damage a claim. If you hire an experienced car accident lawyer, you will have someone on your side who knows how to determine credibility and find the right witness to support your claim.
What Can Discredit a Car Accident Eyewitness?
Having your lawyer vet your eyewitness is in your best interest. An eyewitness can easily be discredited if not thoroughly vetted, and a discredited witness can negatively impact your claim. Some factors that discredit eyewitnesses are listed below:
- Witness did not see the accident from start to finish
- The witness was distracted
- There is inconsistency in their statement
- Witness has a financial interest in the case
- Witness cannot articulate the sequence of events because of age, IQ, physical condition, or mental health
Even if your eyewitness is credible, it is important to remember this does not guarantee a successful outcome. While the witness may be speaking the truth, they are still recalling their own version of events. Sometimes, people do not remember events as well as they think. People tend to observe events differently. An eyewitness could be remembering the accident one way, but there may be evidence to prove their memory of events is not entirely accurate.
Contact the California Car Accident Lawyers at Setareh Law Today
Car crash claims can be inherently challenging, especially if injuries or property damages are involved. An experienced lawyer can help you investigate all elements of your claim to build a solid case, and they can negotiate with insurance companies to pursue fair compensation.
At Setareh Law, we understand the stress of gathering evidence for an insurance claim, and we take pride in our unparalleled client service. The legal team at Setareh Law helps clients navigate the legal process during the difficult time following a car accident. Our skilled attorneys have the resources and experience needed to help you achieve the best possible results for your claim. To schedule a free case evaluation, you can call (310) 659-1826 or fill out our contact form.