In a car accident case, it is often your word against that of the other driver and his or her car insurance company. That is why it is important to gather evidence to help your lawyer prove fault for the collision, such as statements from eyewitnesses.
Your lawyer may also want to bring in expert witnesses to help validate your case. Even though these witnesses were not there at the time of the crash, their training and education allows them to draw conclusions about what happened. Their findings can help your lawyer build a robust case.
What Eyewitnesses May Know About a Crash
Eyewitnesses may have seen things crash victims did not see. For example, they may have seen the at-fault driver looking at his or her phone in the moments before the crash. Eyewitnesses may have seen the at-fault driver blow through a red light or weaving through traffic at a faster speed than the other cars.
This type of information can be particularly helpful when it is backed up by additional evidence. For example, say there is a credible witness who says it seemed like the at-fault driver was speeding. If the damage to both vehicles also seems to indicate speeding, it may be hard for the at-fault driver to claim otherwise.
Witness testimony can be particularly important if the victim was killed in the crash. It can also be vital for collisions where the victim suffered a brain injury and cannot remember much of what happened. In these situations, the victim is not going to be able to recall or describe events leading up to the crash. Witnesses can help fill in the blanks and offer a competing narrative to what the at-fault party is saying.
Importance of Eyewitness Credibility
It is worth noting that all eyewitness testimonies are not created equal. For example, if the witness has a personal connection to the victim, the liable insurance company is going to question the accuracy of the witness’s statement. This is because the witness may have an interest in the outcome of the claim. This is particularly true if the witness is a family member.
Having a connection to the victim is just one of many factors that can affect a witness’s credibility.
Some of the other factors that can impact the credibility of a witness include:
- The witness’s vantage point – if the witness did not have a clear view of the crash, it is hard to trust what he or she says
- Whether the witness has a history of lying
- The existence of a criminal record
- Whether the witness has vision issues
- If the witness’s statements line up with other evidence, such as the police report or the victim’s account of the crash
- If the witness was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash
- If the witness was distracted by his or her smartphone or something else
Benefits of Expert Witnesses
There are different types of expert witnesses your Fort Worth car accident lawyer may bring into a car accident case. For example, your lawyer may want to bring in a medical expert to explain how the crash caused your injuries and why the injury will have long-term effects.
Your lawyer may also want to bring in an accident reconstruction expert to explain how the crash occurred and the role negligence played. Accident reconstruction experts have education and training in various disciplines, such as mathematics, engineering and computer simulation software. Accident reconstruction experts are often former police officers who have significant experience investigating accidents.
Accident reconstruction experts can help to resolve disputes about fault for a collision. One way they do this is by working backward up to when the crash occurred. Looking at the damage to both vehicles and the injuries suffered can also tell these experts a lot about what may have caused the crash.
After gathering this data, they often develop computer models of the crash. This is especially useful when trying to help a jury understand what happened. Other useful evidence may include eyewitness statements, crash test ratings and more.
While these types of experts can be helpful, they are typically only brought in after a catastrophic accident that caused life-changing or fatal injuries. Victims or their families may be able to seek significant compensation, which means it will cost the insurance company more money. In this type of case especially, you can be sure the liable insurance company is going to fight hard to deny or devalue the claim.
Other types of expert witnesses that may help a car accident case include:
- Economic experts – When a case involves significant injuries and damages, victims may seek a lot of compensation. Your lawyer is going to need strong evidence that supports the value of damages. This evidence includes the value of future damages, such as ongoing lost earning capacity and medical bills.
- Mental health experts – Physical injuries often result in emotional/psychological injuries, like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. If your lawyer advises a victim to seek compensation for pain and suffering and other mental health issues, it may be necessary to bring in a mental health expert. These experts are needed to explain the psychological damage that can result from an injury.
- Vocational experts – Crash victims may have to change jobs or work less than they did before the accident. A vocational expert may be able to explain how the injury has affected your ability to work and why you need to do a different job.
When Will You Need Witnesses for Your Car Accident Case?
This is a question that is best left to an experienced attorney. Sometimes expert witnesses are not necessary. It depends on the specifics of the case.
Car accident cases can be challenging, which is why it is so important for crash victims to hire an attorney rather than trying to go it alone. You want an experienced attorney with the resources to protect your legal interests and do things like bring in expert witnesses when they are needed.