When you must prove your right to compensation after a car crash, you will need all types of evidence to prove the other driver’s fault in causing your crash and the seriousness of your injuries. Pictures of the accident scene, surveillance videos, medical reports, medical bills, and paystubs are just some of the evidence that you may need to collect. You will also need witnesses who can substantiate how the accident happened, how you were injured, necessary medical treatments, your prognosis, and the amount of compensation you deserve.
However, having a large number of witnesses to back you up is not enough. You need credible witnesses. But what does this mean and why is it so important?
What Is Credibility?
Credibility is the believability or trustworthiness of a witness. This can be as important as the actual testimony or statement the witness gives. If the witness is perceived as not believable, the insurance adjuster or jury will discount what he says. In addition, a witness who is not credible can actually damage your overall claim. When choosing witnesses, their credibility is a vital consideration in determining how helpful they will be to your case.
What Is Bias in Terms of Witness Credibility?
Bias is a legal term meaning that the witness has a stake in the outcome of the case or has a relationship with one of the parties that could influence his statements. You and the negligent driver have obvious opposing stakes in the final resolution of your case. This could lead a judge or jury to be more skeptical of your testimony.
In addition, other witnesses could also be perceived by an insurance adjuster or jury as being biased. Family members and friends could not be as credible due to their relationship to one of the parties. Expert witnesses are paid by the parties to support their version of what happened, their position regarding the injuries suffered, and to discredit the other party and his experts. This could reduce the believability of their conclusions.
However, some witnesses are considered neutral because they have no relationship with the parties or financial interest in the outcome. Their statements could have a greater impact on swaying the insurance adjuster or jury. Some of these potentially helpful witnesses include eyewitnesses, police officers, emergency medical staff, and the treating physician immediately after your crash.
Factors That Influence Witness Credibility
While you cannot change the fact that some witnesses—such as your experts and family members—could be considered biased, this does not mean that their testimony is not valuable. This is where credibility of the witnesses can be crucial to whether their statements are believed or not. Similarly, the fact that a witness appears neutral does not guarantee that he will be a good and credible witness. There are many factors that influence the trustworthiness of a witness, including whether the witness:
- Offers testimony or statements that are consistent with his previous comments and with the testimony and statements of other witnesses
- Observed and heard what he is testifying to
- Appears to have a good memory and accurately recalls the version of events
- Has hearing or vision issues that could have affected what he saw or heard
- Was distracted by something like his own driving or children that could have influenced his perceptions
- Is easily confused
- Offers statements that appear plausible
- Appears to be lying or has a reputation for dishonesty
- Has a pleasant demeanor and attitude or is hostile and angry
- Has a personal or financial stake in the case’s outcome
- Was intoxicated when he witnessed the crash
- Has been convicted of a crime in the past
An experienced car accident attorney will have extensive experience evaluating the credibility of witnesses and can help you decide which ones would truly be helpful to resolving your claim. In addition, he will know how to effectively discredit witnesses for the negligent driver—equally important to achieving a favorable settlement in your case. If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident caused by another driver, start an online chat to schedule your free case evaluation.