After you have been in a car accident, especially if it is due to the negligence of another driver, one of your biggest assets moving forward can come in the form of a witness. If there is any debate on what exactly happened, ultimately asking the question of who was at fault, it can be very beneficial to have someone that was at the scene of the accident and saw what happened.
With this in mind, however, utilizing a witness is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Some witnesses will be deemed not credible based on a variety of different reasons, often unforeseen. If the witness is not properly utilized, they can actually end up hurting your chances for success or compensation. Because witnesses can be such an important asset after a car accident, it is important to understand all aspects fully. There are many common questions surrounding this topic.
Who can be a car accident witness?
A witness is defined as anyone who was at the scene of the accident that saw what happened, excluding the drivers of the vehicles and/or pedestrians involved in the accident. This could include people in other cars and pedestrians that were not directly involved with the accident. In some cases, even passengers within the cars involved can be used as witnesses, given that they do not act in a biased fashion and are deemed credible. The overarching idea surrounding the definition of a witness is that they are a person who has observed what took place. The honesty and truthfulness of a witness is where the lines begin to be drawn.
How does witness credibility affect the car accident claim?
No matter how unbiased a witness may seem, their testimony can only be beneficial if the person is credible. There are many different factors that affect credibility. The first question to be asked is if the witness was driving a car, meaning that their focus would have been in avoiding the accident. On the other side, if the witness was a nearby pedestrian watching the accident happen from a safe distance, they may have been able to better take in all of the details because they were not making important decisions for themselves at the moment of the accident.
Another important thing to consider is whether or not the accident drew in the witness’s attention or if they had been watching from start to finish. If they just looked that way because they heard the accident happen, they may not be considered very credible because they did not see the entirety of the accident.
Did the witness have time to watch the cars for a sufficient period to determine who was being negligent? For example, could they tell if one of the cars was speeding? Directing your attention that way immediately before the accident may not be able to provide this type of information.
Was the witness distracted at all? Did they have kids in the vehicle to take care of? These types of things can also affect what the witness was able to take in and accurately remember.
There are many other things that come into play when determining credibility, such as the witness’ character and physical condition. Are they a convicted felon? Does the witness have bad eyesight or hearing? Was the witness intoxicated? All of these types of questions will be asked when determining a witness’ credibility during a case. If a witness is not considered credible, they will not be able to help or hinder your chances of receiving compensation.
How do you question a car accident witness?
When witnesses are questioned regarding the accident that they saw, there will be many questions asked of them. They should be able to provide very specific details that the drivers would not have been able to see from their point of view. There is a standard list of questions for witnesses that include:
- Where were they standing?
- How much of the scene were they actually able to see?
- What direction were they headed at the time of the accident?
- What abnormalities did the witness notice before, during, and after the accident?
- When did they first notice the accident?
- Did they have a clear view or were there any type of obstruction?
The witness will also be asked to describe the entire event in detail, as well as answer many other questions. The answers to these questions can be very important and beneficial to the outcome of the case. If you have the chance to utilize a credible witness, you should do so.
If you have any further questions about witnesses, how to use them, or anything else, do not hesitate to contact a car accident attorney at Drake Law Firm.