Proving your right to injury compensation following a car accident involves many types of proof. Pictures of the accident scene and damage to the vehicles involved; copies of your medical bills; and the police report can help. Another essential factor in your case is having witnesses who confirm how the car accident occurred and perhaps the seriousness of your injuries. However, not all witnesses will be helpful to your case.
What Is Witness Credibility?
While your testimony is important, it's also necessary to keep in mind that a jury could perceive it as biased due to your stake in the outcome of the case. The same holds true of the negligent driver. This is why corroborating witnesses to your car accident or how your injuries have limited your day-to-day activities are critical to proving your claim.
Having a lot of witnesses isn't as meaningful as having credible ones. Credibility is the believability or trustworthiness of the person testifying. Even if a witness is telling a truthful account, he may not be believed if he doesn't appear credible. Presenting uncredible witnesses may actually hurt your case by causing a jury or investigating claims adjuster to doubt other witnesses and your testimony or statements.
General Factors That Affect Witness Credibility
Neutral, third-party witnesses who have no stake in the outcome of your case can provide persuasive testimony. However, even they can be perceived as not credible. These factors can reduce a witness’s credibility:
- A prior criminal record
- A reputation for being dishonest
- An interest in the outcome of the case—a potential issue for family and friends
- Is easily confused or has memory problems
- Has poor eyesight or hearing, which could be even more of an issue if the person wasn't wearing prescription eyeglasses at the time of the event
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident
Credibility Factors Unique to Car Accident Cases
There are other issues in a car accident case that impact a witness’s believability or vantage point to provide an accurate account. The following questions may be raised:
- Was the witness another motorist? If so, he may not be reliable because he would have been focused on his driving and avoiding the crash.
- Was the witness a safe distance from the wreck? If she was a pedestrian or passenger in another vehicle far enough from the accident to not be in danger, she could be considered a more credible witness than one involved in the crash.
- How much of the accident did the witness observe? In some cases, he may not have seen the collision from its beginning to end, which could make his testimony less convincing.
- Was the witness distracted? If she was talking on a cellphone, texting, eating and drinking, or talking to others, her attention wouldn't be fully on the accident, and her credibility could be challenged.
- Is the person relying on his or others’ observations? A witness will be less believable if his testimony is based on the observations and opinions of others who witnessed the wreck and not on what he actually saw.
- Are the witness statements consistent? This aspect of testimony is equally important in determining trustworthiness.
Do you need to file a claim for compensation following a collision? To help you develop a solid case, an experienced car accident attorney will interview your witnesses and make a determination as to their credibility. He will also be skilled in challenging the credibility of the negligent driver’s witnesses. Review our car accident testimonials to see how we have helped other clients, then contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free case evaluation.