In personal injury cases, establishing fault is crucial. Without evidence to show whose actions caused the accident, it may not be possible for you to build a claim seeking fair compensation. Therefore, eyewitnesses can be crucial to any personal injury case.
Eyewitnesses may see an accident or incident with their own eyes but are not personally involved. Unlike the people directly affected by the accident, eyewitnesses should be able to give an unbiased account of what happened.
Let’s dig deeper into why they are crucial to proving fault and securing justice.
Why Eyewitness Testimony Matters
To build a strong argument for compensation, a personal injury lawyer must prove that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. He or she will gather as much evidence as possible to prove fault.
Evidence may include the following:
- Photographs and videos from the scene
- Police reports
- Insurance reports
- Eyewitness statements
Before using eyewitness statements, a personal injury attorney may need to do some digging to identify potential witnesses.
Potential eyewitnesses could be:
- Other drivers
- Individuals who stopped to give assistance
- People in homes or businesses nearby who saw the accident happen
After being seriously hurt in an accident, seeking eyewitness contact details may not be the first thing on your mind. However, gathering the information of witnesses could assist you down the line. If you are physically unable, you could also ask someone at the scene to collect these details on your behalf.
What if you did not collect these details at the scene? A personal injury lawyer can perform an exhaustive search to track down eyewitnesses for you. For example, your lawyer and his or her team may review relevant security camera footage and police records to identify potential eyewitnesses who could bolster your case.
How eyewitness testimony helps
Eyewitnesses may be called on as fact witnesses. Fact witnesses are persons with relevant knowledge who can provide witness statements or verbal testimony if the case goes to court. Unlike expert witnesses, eyewitnesses do not give opinions about the cause of the accident. Instead, they limit themselves to providing truthful accounts of what they saw.
Eyewitnesses do not take sides or make judgments; they simply state facts. Witnesses do not have a vested interest in the outcome of your case, so their testimony may carry more weight in the eyes of the insurance company – or jury, when the case can’t be settled out of court.
Eyewitness accounts can paint a clear picture of what caused the accident. For example, witnesses can:
- State the sequence of events leading up to the accident, including failing to signal, running a red light, using a cell phone while driving, or other negligent behavior
- Provide photographic or video evidence of the accident
- Corroborate other evidence, such as physical evidence or expert witness testimony
Eyewitnesses may surprise you with what they have seen. They may have witnessed negligent or reckless behavior you did not see. They also offer a valuable outside perspective that is impossible to gain when you are personally involved in the accident.
After an accident, it is common for the involved parties to disagree on who is at fault. Both sides may claim the other is liable. Meanwhile, insurance companies may weigh in, trying to show that you were at fault.
The testimony of the people directly involved in the accident matters, but their statements may be biased, so eyewitness testimony is essential. Impartial eyewitness testimony could add weight to your account and aid you in securing the compensation you deserve.
Even if eyewitness testimony indicates that you were partially at fault, it could still benefit your case. In New Jersey, it is possible to seek compensation even when partly responsible for causing an accident.
Our state’s rule of contributory negligence allows you to seek compensation if you were up to 50 percent responsible for the accident and share less liability than the other party.
How Personal Injury Lawyers Use Eyewitness Testimony
In personal injury cases, it is common for both parties to clash over fault. For example, the defendant may claim that mechanical failure caused the accident while the plaintiff argues that he or she was texting when the accident occurred.
If the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney can find one or more eyewitnesses to testify that the other driver was texting at the time, this can significantly strengthen the case. However, not all eyewitnesses are automatically reliable witnesses.
How Defendants Try to Undermine Eyewitness Testimony
The insurance company may try to undermine eyewitness testimony by calling into question the reliability of the witness.
For instance, the following people may not be considered reliable witnesses:
- Passengers of the driver involved in the car accident
- Friends and relatives of the plaintiff
- Those who only partially witnessed the accident
- People whose credibility is questionable due to their age, eyesight, hearing, or mental capacity
- Any witness who appears to be biased
Remember, the insurance company will look to exploit any weakness in your case to reduce the amount of compensation it offers or try to avoid paying altogether. Entrusting your case to an experienced personal injury lawyer familiar with all these tactics and who can select credible eyewitnesses is vital.
Use Eyewitnesses to Strengthen Your Case
A tenacious and seasoned personal injury lawyer will be able to use the unbiased testimony of reliable eyewitnesses to bolster your case. Such witnesses can establish what happened and who was at fault. Their testimony can be utilized by your attorney so you can get what you need to rebuild your life.
The personal injury lawyers at Judd Shaw Injury Law will leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of justice for you. That’s the Judd Shaw Way – the code of honor that guides everything we do.
Our attorneys can seek eyewitnesses and other evidence to build a strong case and fight for the compensation you need to make you whole again.
Our No Fee Guarantee® means you won’t pay us anything unless you get money for your claim, so there is no risk to you. To get started, contact us at 1-866-909-6894 or fill out our online form to request a free case review. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Content edited by personal injury attorney Judd Shaw. From the beginning, Judd established a set of Core Values laying out the pursuit for excellence in client service. He is a regular host of the Working The Wow podcast, with the belief that providing an exceptional client experience is just as important as delivering a quality service or product. You can find us in Red Bank and Tom‘s River, New Jersey.