Use of Witnesses in Car Accident Cases
It can be crucial to have witnesses after getting into a car accident. Often, in a car accident lawsuit, the drivers have very different accounts of what happened. Each can provide evidence, but if they are pointing fingers at each other, it can be difficult for the jury to decide what happened to cause the accident. Other third-party witnesses can be crucial to establishing liability. If you want to know more about the use of witnesses in car accident cases, you should talk to the Miami car accident lawyers at our Law Offices of Robert Dixon.Understanding the Use of Witnesses in Car Accident Cases
One of the most critical concerns for an insurance adjuster presented with a car accident claim, as well as your personal injury attorney, is whether there are other witnesses besides the drivers. There may be conflicts or inconsistencies between the drivers' accounts. Witnesses can include passengers inside either car, pedestrians outside the car, or third parties in other vehicles. When there are credible third-party witnesses who can back up the claimant's account, the claim will be taken more seriously.
To establish liability in a car accident case, you often need to show negligence, or a breach of a duty of care. Witnesses can be useful to establish that the defendant breached the duty of care, and they may also have useful information about whether the breach caused the accident and what the damages are. However, in a product liability lawsuit based on defects in a car, you would try to show that the car had a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect that caused the accident.
Witnesses are only helpful if they are credible, but this is a determination for your attorney to make. You should take down witness names and contact information after an accident, even if you do not think that what they say is useful, so that your attorney has complete information in preparing your case. Often, car accidents happen quickly, and more than one person needs to react appropriately and quickly to avoid getting hurt. Therefore, witness observations regarding the accident can be colored by their position during the accident and their own potential liability for the accident. Sometimes what a witness remembers is not accurate because their primary focus was on avoiding getting hurt instead of what had happened to lead up to the collision.
However, if a witness was a pedestrian watching from a safe distance and with no relationship to either driver, this is likely a very credible witness who could see what was happening with some sense of objectivity. It will be important to the insurance adjusters and lawyers handling the case to determine whether the witness saw what happened before the accident or whether it was the crash that drew the witness' attention. A witness who sees what led up to the crash has more useful testimony for the purpose of determining causation than someone who simply saw what happened after the force of the impact.
Also critical to the use of witnesses in car accident cases are factors associated with the witness' character. If the witness has a felony conviction in their record or has a stake in the outcome of the case, their testimony is less credible. Witnesses who were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, who have bad hearing or eyesight, or who are easily confused may also be discredited by the defendant's attorney.
Sometimes there are inconsistencies because the conclusions formed by different witnesses are based on their perception and position at the time of the accident. While a pedestrian outside the car and at a distance may perceive that Driver A was going 35 mph, while Driver B was going 20 mph, a witness inside Driver A's car may glance at the dashboard and see that Driver A was going 50 mph, and they may believe that Driver B was proceeding toward them at a speed much higher than 20 mph.Get Started on Your Case with a Car Accident Lawyer in Miami
If you are injured in a car crash, you should consult the Miami attorneys at our Law Offices of Robert Dixon. We represent victims in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and other areas of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. Contact us at 877.499.4878 or via our online form.