Having the right witness can make or break your accident claim. The presence of third party witnesses and their credibility is crucial to your claim.
One of the first questions the insurance company will ask about filing a claim is if there were any witnesses present besides the drivers. The insurance adjuster will want to hear the story from the witness’ point of view if there are discrepancies or conflicts between the driver’s stories.
The third party may witness the accident but you want to make sure that person is credible. Typically if that person was in close proximity to the crash they were mostly concerned about their own safety and trying to avoid the crash. Since accidents happen in seconds, sometimes a third party’s observations are unreliable.
What factors affect credibility?
The location and viewpoint of the witness can be a factor for determining credibility. Things to consider are:
- Was the witness driving and focused on avoiding the accident? Or were they a nearby pedestrian watching it from a short distance?
- Did they observe the accident from start to finish?
- Could they tell if a car was speeding?
- Was the witness distracted by something else?
- Is the witness relying on their own personal observations or ones of someone else?
Things to consider about the witness’ character are:
- Is the witness a convicted felon?
- Do they have a reputation for dishonesty?
- Do they have a relationship with someone involved in the accident and have an interest in the outcome?
Another factor to look at is the witness’ physical condition:
- Does the witness have poor vision or hearing? If so were they wearing glasses or a hearing aid?
- Was the witness intoxicated at the time?
- Does the witness have poor memory?
- Do they seem easily confused?
Another problem that could arise is that people observe events differently. Now you see some of the factors that affect the credibility of your witness and the main thing to take away is to make sure you know the story the witness is providing so you understand it is the most reliable testimony.