After a Georgia car or truck accident, finding one or more credible witnesses may help you or your attorney prove that you deserve fair compensation. This Georgia legal resource written by our attorneys may help.
- Credible witness testimony can help you recover a larger or more favorable settlement or verdict.
- Unbiased bystanders are often your best, and most believable, witnesses.
- Friends and family members are often attacked as being biased in your favor.
- Eyewitnesses can sometimes be located using police and 911 records or speaking to passengers and employees of local businesses.
When a motor vehicle accident happens in the busy Atlanta region, there’s a good chance other drivers, pedestrians, workers at local businesses or passengers saw the collision. Witnesses can provide personal accounts of what happened before, during, and after the crash, which can help you win your case.
Here’s how to tell whether someone will make a good, credible witness.
The Importance of Unbiased Witnesses
Judges, lawyers, and insurance adjusters want to clearly understand why a car accident took place and whether you were injured. Because compensation is on the line insurance companies often assume that drivers and even passengers involved in a crash may have biased angles, hidden truths, or conflicting facts from the other parties.
If you were injured a motor vehicle accident, an unbiased onlooker’s account of what happened could help make your case. Additionally, if an insurance adjuster is claiming that you are lying about or exaggerating your injuries, a police officer, passerby or another driver who saw you in pain at the scene of the accident may help you receive a better settlement offer.
An accident bystander can offer an impartial story about what took place and what the involved drivers and passengers said after the crash. Third-party accounts can help fill in the holes in drivers’ stories and prove if anyone is omitting facts or lying.
A credible and reliable witness is usually considered someone who is unbiased and has no stake in the outcome of a case. This means the best testimony in your case might not come from your mom, best friend, or brother riding in the car with you.
Instead, a credible witness may be someone who stopped to assist at the accident scene, a nearby pedestrian who saw the accident happen, or an uninvolved motorist who called 911 to report the crash. Your car accident lawyer will be able to help you find observers who are both helpful and credible.
What Makes a Witness Credible?
If you’re wondering if a witness will be considered credible, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the person an un-involved third party? A person or officer who was not involved as a driver or a passenger and who has no interest in who wins, loses or recovers compensation, may be more credible.
- Did the person see the entire accident from start to finish? If they only saw what happened after they heard the cars colliding, they could lose some credibility. A person who was driving another car and did not see the wreck happen may not be the strongest witness in your case.
- What was the observer doing at the time? If they were distracted doing something else, their accounts might be less valuable.
- Can the observer remember important details about the accident? Do they recall which car was speeding, if the light went red, or if someone was cut off? Memory of the accident can fade, and not knowing the details can damage their credibility.
- Does the person testifying have a connection to any of the drivers? If they’re friends or related, it can lead to questions about bias.
- Was he or she involved in the accident? If so, they might have a stake in the outcome of the case, and may not be unbiased.
- Does the witness have a bad history? If the witness has a proven history of lying or memory loss or if they have been convicted of a felony or crime involving dishonesty, the witness’ credibility may be attacked in Court.
Regardless of whether you believe an observer will be considered credible or not, you should always get their contact information. It can be determined later if their testimony can help your case.
Tips on Finding Credible Witnesses
Here are some things to consider when looking for a witness for your Georgia car accident case:
- Did anyone stop to see if everyone was okay? These individuals are often the most willing to give their information if they saw the accident.
- Get and check the police report. If the responding police officer spoke to anyone at the scene, the officer most likely recorded their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
- Were there any businesses nearby that might have employees or customers who saw the accident? Perhaps an employee saw the accident or knows a customer who did.
- Contact the local 911 communications office. Many people call the police to report an accident. You may be able to obtain their names and telephone numbers from 911 under the Georgia Open Records Act.
- Is there anyone on social media talking about the accident? Occasionally, people will post about a crash they see online. Check geo-location tags for the area your accident took place to see if you can find any witnesses posting information or photos on social media.
Why Unbiased Observers Are Your Best Witnesses
When someone has a bias, it means they tend to favor one side over the other. For example, if you are a sports fan, then you will likely always have a bias and cheer for your team, even if they aren’t having a good season.
In an injury case, the credibility and bias of the persons testifying are often at issue and may be questioned by the opposing insurance adjuster or defense attorney. When people have a bias, it can also affect their perception of events and even their intentions when testifying.
It is critical to understand any potential biases for anyone who may testify in a case. Your lawyers can work to minimize the effect during a trial if a potentially bias witness must testify.
Can a Family Member or Friend Be a Witness in a Car Accident Claim?
Yes. Anyone can be a witness if their testimony is relevant and related to the case. However, a family member or friend may not be considered an unbiased source. If you are relying on friends or family members to describe what happened in a car accident or how your injuries affect you, you may expect that the insurance company or defense lawyer will do all they can to discredit this testimony by saying they are biased, or more likely to give you a favored view of the accident.
In a perfect world, witnesses should have no attachment to you or your case. But if you have someone close to you who will need to testify, then it is important to properly prepare them for what opposing attorneys will likely do to derail their testimony.
In car accident cases, the responding police officers are often essential witnesses. During a police officer’s accident investigation, they will usually interview drivers, passengers, and pedestrians and document the vehicle damage. They will sometimes take written or recorded statements to support the police report.
Why Car Accident Passengers May Not Be Your Strongest Witnesses
Car accident victims and passengers may not be viewed as credible if they have a personal or financial stake in the legal claim. For example, insurance adjusters often assume that passengers may lie or exaggerate their testimony to help the driver prove he or she was not at fault or was injured. It is best to carefully question passengers about any possible or potential bias so there are no bad surprises in deposition or courtroom testimony.
Personal injury lawyers can and frequently do rely on passengers to prove fault or that our clients reported injury at the time of the accident. It is just important to keep in mind that the best witnesses in your car accident case is most likely to be a stranger with no reason to fabricate or exaggerate their testimony.
Our Law Firm Can Help
If you or a family member was injured in a car accident and seeking legal help, contact our Atlanta injury law firm or our Jonesboro car accident lawyers. We can help you identify potential credible witnesses that can help prove your injury case.
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