If you have done any reading pursuing a personal injury claim after a car accident, you have most likely come across articles suggesting that you should try to collect the names and information of any witnesses at the scene of the accident. This is good advice (I recommend it as well), as without these “third-party” witnesses, your case could come down to your word against the other driver’s. A good, credible witness can often be just what it takes to tip the scales in your favor.
But, some witnesses are more credible than others. As a personal injury lawyer, I run into this issue all of the time. You generally do not want to put a witness who is lacking in credibility on the witness stand, so assessing credibility early in the trial process is a critical to make sure that you know what you can expect in court.
Factors that Can Affect Car Accident Witnesses’ Credibility
In a car accident, there are two factors that can limit the number of witnesses right off the bat. First, in a car accident, things happen fast. Potential witnesses may be trying to avoid becoming accident victims themselves; or, by the time they see what is going on, the original cause of the accident may have already happened. In either scenario, their memory of what happened is likely to be incomplete – and as a result, their ability to serve as witnesses will be limited.
Second, depending on where and when the accident happened, there may simply only be a handful of people (at most) who actually witnessed the events. If there were no witnesses, you will likely need to turn to other types of evidence to prove your claim to compensation.
But, assuming that one or more people clearly witnessed the accident, the next issue will be determining whether their testimony will be considered “credible” in court. This is a complicated task, and one that takes a number of different factors into consideration. For example, some of the factors that can affect a witness’s credibility include:
- How is the witness’s eyesight?
- How is the witness’s memory?
- Is the witness an honest person?
- Is the witness a convicted felon?
- Is the witness a friend or relative of the other driver?
These are all key questions that will need to be answered before you ask someone to testify on your behalf.
Using Witness Credibility in Settlement Negotiations
So far we’ve been focused on witness credibility in the context of a personal injury trial. But, it is important to note that witness credibility can factor into settlement negotiations, as well. Most car accident cases settle, and the insurance companies are usually most willing to settle when they are afraid of taking a particular case to trial.
Real-life trials are not like those in the movies – there is no “surprise” last-minute witness with a smoking gun. If you have a lineup of credible witnesses on your side, or if you are able to challenge the credibility of the insurance company’s witnesses, these are both factors that could help secure a favorable settlement in your car accident claim without the need to go to court.
Call Me Personally® to Discuss Your Palm Beach Car Accident Claim
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County car accident, I encourage you to call me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to learn more your right to just compensation. At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, we help our clients Demand More® for their cases and we give all clients the VIP treatment that they deserve. For a free, no-obligation consultation, our firm online or call (561) 983-4395 today.