My Love Of The Law

How Much Of A Difference Can Witnesses Make In An Auto Accident Case

by Alan Medina

Many auto accidents seem to occur in such a way that there really isn't any doubt who is to blame. But unfortunately, once an insurance company dissects the accident, they can try to prove the accident happened in a completely different way than you thought. This is why witnesses can make all the difference in an auto accident case.

Where Do Witnesses Come From?

Many auto accidents happen in plain sight of other people on the road, but that doesn't mean they will stick around. That means you only have a small window of opportunity to seek witnesses. If you suffer an injury, that small window becomes even smaller, since you will have to seek medical attention first.

If you have the wherewithal to actually go to people and speak to them, then you should. If you can't manage that, you should ask someone nearby if they can do it for you. Occasionally, people will actually volunteer themselves as witnesses.

Some people may feel uncomfortable giving you or someone else their contact information. Many of those same people will feel fine with giving their information to a police officer. This is one reason you should call law enforcement, even if the accident is a mild one.

Are Witnesses Only Good For a Trial?

Many people believe a witness is only helpful during a trial. The truth is a witness can help from the very start of the settlement process. Just saying there's one or more witnesses swings the case a little more in your favor. That's because a witness works as more than just an extra set of eyes.

A witness is also a voice that can speak on your behalf. If there are multiple witnesses, then there are multiple voices. Effectively, a witness can turn a "my word against yours" situation into an "our word against yours" one. This adds a lot more credibility to your word over the word of the opposing party.

Do Witnesses Stick Around For a Trial?

If the case does happen to make it to a trial, then a witness can work on your behalf. At most, they will help to prove that your version of events is fact. At least, they can help lower your amount of liability. This is especially beneficial in jurisdictions that use the percentage of fault to decide the final judgment.

The only issue that may come up is a witness' reticence to go to trial. It's one thing to give a statement or even a deposition, but asking someone to appear in court on a stranger's behalf is something altogether different. However, a deposition or a statement is often enough for a trial.

Your Attorney Can Help You with Witnesses

One factor about witnesses that you have absolutely no control over is their credibility. An auto accident attorney can go through your witnesses to figure out which ones are beneficial to your case, and which ones aren't.

Having many witnesses helps a lot when trying to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company. But when it comes to trial, you need the right witnesses. An auto accident attorney can help you with both those things.

For more information, talk with a car accident attorney directly or check out the sites of local law firms.