Victims who suffer a personal injury because of another’s negligence, have a right to seek compensation. However, the burden of proving negligence is on the injured party. In addition to providing tangible evidence, like medical bills, having a credible witness can help support a negligence claim. So what is witness credibility in a personal injury claim and why does it matter?
Bernstein & Poisson discuss credible witnesses below, including how their testimony may help your claim.
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How Can Witness Credibility Help My Injury Claim?
When there is no camera footage and little other supporting evidence to show how your accident happened, it is harder to prove negligence. Accidents, such as a slip and fall or dog bite, happen quickly. People in the area at the time may all have slightly different versions about what happened or who was at fault. Sometimes this can make it challenging to root out the likely cause of an accident.
If there is a third-party witness who supports your version of what happened, it can do a lot to help strengthen your claim. A family member – or a passenger in your vehicle if you were in a car crash – are likely biased about your claim’s outcome. Third-party witnesses, however, typically have no vested interest in the outcome of your claim. They are thought to be neutral, which often makes them more credible.
The opposite is also true. If your witness is not credible, his or her testimony could do more harm to your claim than good.
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What Makes a Witness Credible?
A witness is thought to be credible if he or she comes across as someone who is trustworthy or believable. Therefore, any factors that damage that credibility can cast doubt not only on your own statement, but also on the testimony of other witnesses.
Naturally, not every witness will be a good choice, even if they did see the accident that caused your injury. Additionally, sometimes people just say they saw what happened, when in truth maybe they only saw the aftermath of the incident.
Factors Involved in Credibility
There are certain factors to consider when looking for a witness. For example, you want someone who:
- Was close to the scene of the accident, slip and fall or other personal injury
- Is an objective or neutral person with no vested interest in the outcome of your claim
- Has the ability to easily recall the events and details leading up to the accident
- Consistently makes clear and confident statements about how what happened
What Factors Could Damage Witness Credibility?
Credible witness statements are by no means the only evidence you may have to help support your claim of negligence. However, these statements do have the ability to greatly impact what the insurance company or jurors believe about your claim.
That is why you want to have witnesses with strong credibility. You want to avoid using witnesses who fit these criteria:
- Shady character: Someone with a reputation of being dishonest could cast doubt on your own statements.
- Criminal background: Even someone who is only a “petty thief” would not help to strengthen your claim.
- Poor vantage point during the accident: A person sitting in a parked car may not have seen enough to be helpful.
- Drunk or impaired: A witness may not remember details with clarity or may leave out important facts.
- Bad or failing vision: Someone with poor eyesight may be unsure of what they saw.
- Poor or declining mental health: A witness with even mild Alzheimer’s may be confused or not fully remember details.
- Weak cognitive recall: Some witnesses may be less confident or inconsistent with their statements.
Request a Free Consultation With One of Our Qualified Lawyers
If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, it is important to seek legal help to find out whether you may have a claim. Waiting to start the legal process can result in lost evidence, missed filing deadlines and other factors that could seriously hurt your ability to recover compensation.
At Bernstein & Poisson, we have decades of experience and a proven track record – we have recovered millions for our clients. There is no obligation after your free consultation. If we do take your case and represent you, there is nothing to pay up front. We only get paid when you do.