The at-fault driver’s car insurance company will probably dispute your account of the crash. That is why eyewitness testimony can be helpful. If a third party can corroborate your statements, it will be harder for the insurance company to deny what happened.
Expert witness testimony can also be helpful. Even though these types of witnesses did not see the crash happen, their expertise can bolster a claim.
All that said, no testimony will make a difference if the witnesses lack credibility. Our Cleveland-based auto accident lawyers explain the importance of witness credibility below.
Experienced lawyers. No upfront costs. Call to learn more: 216-621-0070.
What Does Credibility Mean?
Credibility is a quality or characteristic that people perceive in others. When someone has credibility, it means he or she is viewed as trustworthy or believable. If you view someone as credible and that person tells you about something that happened, you are likely to believe it.
People who routinely tell the truth and avoid lying or engaging in illegal or unethical conduct are more likely to be seen as credible.
Why Witness Credibility is Important
When a witness has strong credibility, his or her statements can go a long way toward strengthening your claim for compensation. However, if people cannot trust what a witness is saying, involving this person in your claim could do more harm than good.
Even if the witness backs up your statements about the crash, his or her lack of credibility will call his or her words into question. You can be sure the insurance company will bring up reasons why people should not believe what a witness is saying.
This issue is particularly relevant in a jury trial. While jurors weigh the evidence presented, their impressions of the case are going to be greatly influenced by the credibility of those involved, especially witnesses.
What Factors Into the Credibility of a Witness?
There are many things to evaluate when trying to determine the credibility of a car crash witness.
Where They Were and Their Awareness of What Was Happening
A car crash witness may say he or she had a clear view of the accident. However, you need to know where this person was when the crash was happening and how much attention he or she gave your collision.
- Did the witness see the entire crash?
- Was this person’s view of the collision obstructed by cars, trees or other objects?
- Was the witness distracted by something (text message, social media app, podcast, flashing lights, another person, etc.)?
- Was he or she under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred?
- How far away was the witness from the crash site?
- Was the witness wearing his or her prescription glasses or contact lenses at the time?
- Does the witness have health issues (dementia, macular degeneration) that impair vision or memory?
- Is the witness someone who was in a third vehicle that was involved in your collision?
Does the Witness Have Any Connection to You?
The best eyewitnesses are those who do not have any connection to the victim. If the witness is a friend or relative, people will think this person has an interest in a favorable outcome of your case. You do not want an eyewitness who has this type of conflict of interest, such as another passenger in your vehicle.
Does the Witness Have a Criminal Record?
People who have criminal records are automatically viewed as dishonest. Even if the witness account of the crash seems credible, it will be overshadowed by the criminal record.
Are Their Statements Consistent?
People are often seen as credible because their statements do not change over time. When a witness’s account of a crash remains consistent throughout a case, it is harder to dispute his or her testimony. An example of when a witness would not be credible is if he or she initially says the other vehicle was in a certain position. If any later statements contradict the witness’s first account of the crash, it becomes hard to believe that person or find them credible.
Another thing that factors into credibility is if the witness is saying things that line up with what you have said and what the other evidence indicates.
Credibility For Expert Witnesses
Eyewitnesses are more likely to have their credibility questioned than expert witnesses. However, sometimes the credibility of an expert witness can be called into question.
For example, the insurance company might claim the expert witness is only taking part in your case for a paycheck. He or she has an interest in reaching conclusions that favor your interests, as this may help him or her get future business.
Your treating doctor’s statements may also be questioned, especially if the doctor placed a lien on your settlement to pay for your treatment. The doctor has a financial stake in you recovering compensation from the insurance company.
Injured in a Crash? Call Friedman, Domiano and Smith Today
It is normal to have a lot of questions following a car crash. You may be unsure if you are owed compensation. You may also be unsure of how much compensation you will need to cover your medical bills and other expenses.
You need answers from an experienced lawyer you can trust – one who has been through the legal process many times and has a history of securing favorable results.
Our firm has been helping the injured in Northeast Ohio for decades. We take on the insurance companies on behalf of our clients, pursuing the justice and compensation they deserve.
Have questions after a crash? We are here to help. Call us: 216-621-0070.
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