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What You Need to Know About Witness Credibility in an Injury Claim

spotlight on witness in dictionaryOne of the challenges of proving liability for a car crash is that the victim needs the insurance company and/or a jury to take his or her word against the word of the at-fault driver. Your account of the crash is certainly important, but objective evidence, such as witness statements, can go a long way in validating a claim.

That is why it is important for crash victims to talk to witnesses at the scene and obtain their contact information. However, witnesses are not always very credible. An account from a witness who lacks credibility could do more harm than good.

Schmidt Kramer discusses witness credibility below. Learn more about what makes a witness credible and the different factors that could throw credibility into question.

It is important to discuss witness statements with an experienced attorney to determine if they may help or hurt your case.

What Makes a Witness Credible?

When someone has credibility, it means you can trust and believe in them. The things they say are convincing or believable. When someone lacks credibility, it becomes more difficult to believe what they are telling you.

Objectivity

Credibility is often related to objectivity. In other words, it is difficult to believe some people could provide an objective account of a car crash. For example, friends or family members of the victim may be more likely to say things that support the victim. Friends and family members often feel an obligation to help each other.

Insurance companies and juries often do not view statements from friends or family members to be objective, particularly as it relates to fault for a car crash. On the other hand, statements from friends and family members about the mental/psychological toll of an injury may be viewed with a lot of credibility.

When it comes to car crash witnesses, people who have no relationship to the victim and had a good view of the crash may be seen as highly credible. If they had an obstructed view of the crash, or their account of events differs from that of another witness or video footage, they may not be seen as very credible.   

Other drivers may not be seen as very credible. Insurance companies may argue they were focused on driving and could not have seen much of the crash. Pedestrians may have their credibility questioned because they may have been trying to get out of the way to avoid getting hurt.

A criminal record can also make people question a witness’s credibility. You may be asking why - the criminal record may have nothing to do with the accident. However, that is just the way many people think, and you can be sure the insurance company will use a witness’s criminal record to discount their testimony.

Factors That Play into Witness Credibility

Some of the other factors that could affect a witness’s credibility include:

  • Whether the witness has impaired vision
  • The location of the witness during the crash
  • How much of the crash the witness saw
  • What the witness was doing prior to the crash
  • Whether the witness was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Whether the witness had any level of impaired hearing
  • Whether the witness has a reputation for lying
  • Any connection between the witness and the victim
  • Whether the witness makes contradictory statements or changes his or her story
  • If there is other evidence to support the witness’s claims
  • If the witness seems unsure about what he or she saw
  • The length of time the witness observed the crash

If you have concerns about a witness’s credibility, be sure to discuss those concerns with your attorney. The experienced Harrisburg auto accident lawyers at Schmidt Kramer have helped many crash victims and know how to determine if a witness may be viewed as credible.

When you talk to witnesses after a crash, you may want to ask them where they were and how much of the crash they saw. Ask them what they were doing at the time of the crash. Their answers may factor into whether their statements could be viewed as credible.

Protecting Witness Credibility When Talking to the Insurance Company

If the insurance company calls you after a crash, you should strongly consider referring the insurance company to your lawyer, as you run the risk of saying something that could affect your credibility or contradict a witness statement. You may not have seen some of what happened leading up to the crash.   

Contact Schmidt Kramer for Help After a Crash

Have you been injured in a car crash?

Pursuing compensation on your own can be very difficult, which is why many victims retain an attorney. You may not know that Schmidt Kramer charges no upfront fees. That means an initial consultation is free. If we validate your claim and you want to hire us, there are no fees while we work on your case. We do not get paid unless you get paid.

Learn more about how we may be able to help. Call (717) 888-8888.