Why Credible Witnesses May Help You Win a Larger Car Accident Settlement

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.

Key Points:

  • 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.

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

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.

How Having a Credible Witness Can Result in a Larger Car Accident Settlement

When you have credible witnesses on your side, your chances of obtaining a more significant settlement go up. When the insurance company knows that you have unbiased witnesses, who witnessed the entire accident and can prove their client was at-fault, they will work to settle the accident.

Having a credible witness can lead to a larger settlement because Georgia is a comparative negligence state, so it will be difficult for the insurance company to prove any negligence on your behalf. With no credible witness, they could attempt to prove that you were speeding, distracted, or any other common form of failure. If they can prove any percentage of negligence, it will reduce your settlement, and a credible witness can defend that for you.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Credible Car Accident Witnesses

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 to the case. However, friends or family members may be perceived as biased sources. Relying on them to describe the accident or its impact on you could lead to insurance companies or defense lawyers attempting to discredit their testimony. Ideally, witnesses should be unconnected to you or your case. If someone close to you must testify, it’s crucial to prepare them for potential challenges from opposing attorneys.
In car accident cases, responding police officers often serve as essential witnesses. They typically interview drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, document vehicle damage, and collect written or recorded statements for the police report during their investigation.

Is It Possible to Strengthen a Witnesses Credibility?

Witness credibility can be improved in many ways, such as by being prepared, having expertise, addressing bias, being confident, providing evidence, and staying consistent.
Being prepared means knowing what you will be asked and being able to answer those questions clearly and concisely. Having expertise means having knowledge and experience in the area about which you are testifying. Addressing bias means being aware of any potential biases you may have and disclosing them to the court. Being confident means speaking clearly and confidently, and not appearing nervous or unsure. Providing evidence means supporting your testimony with documents, photos, or other physical evidence. Staying consistent means telling the same story over and over again, without changing any details.
By following these tips, you can improve your credibility as a witness and make your testimony more persuasive.

What steps should you take immediately after an accident to ensure the best chances of finding credible witnesses?

To improve the chances of finding credible witnesses, document the scene by taking pictures and videos of the accident and looking for potential witnesses such as nearby drivers, pedestrians or employees. Approach them politely and respectfully, and ask if they saw the accident and would be willing to provide a statement. Collect their contact information, take notes of their observations, and call the police to file a report. Finally, notify your attorney about the accident as soon as possible and share the collected witness information to help determine which witnesses may be the most credible and valuable for your case.

Are there any situations where a biased witness’s testimony can still be valuable to your case?

In some cases, a biased witness’s testimony may still be valuable to your case, as long as their bias can be explained and understood. For example, if the witness is a family member or friend who has a clear bias in your favor, their testimony may still be useful if they can provide valuable information about the accident or your injuries. Your attorney can help prepare the witness to address potential criticisms and highlight the value of their testimony.
Additionally, if the witness is biased against you, their testimony may still be valuable in some cases. For example, if the witness is a former employer or coworker who has a negative opinion of you, their testimony may be useful in demonstrating that you had a good work record before the accident. In such cases, it is important to anticipate and address any biases or potential criticisms during the trial or settlement negotiations, in order to minimize their impact on the outcome of your case.

How can a car accident attorney help you identify and locate credible witnesses?

A car accident attorney can play a crucial role in identifying and locating credible witnesses to support your case. They have the experience and knowledge to know where to look for witnesses, such as checking police reports, speaking with local businesses or pedestrians, and even searching social media for any posts or comments related to the accident. Additionally, attorneys can conduct their own investigation, which may involve visiting the accident scene, collecting evidence, and interviewing potential witnesses.
Once potential witnesses are identified, attorneys can evaluate their credibility and determine which witnesses are most likely to provide valuable testimony. They can also help prepare witnesses for depositions or court appearances, which may include coaching them on how to answer questions and what to expect during the legal process. Overall, an experienced car accident attorney can greatly increase your chances of locating and utilizing credible witnesses to support your case and potentially help you receive a more favorable settlement or verdict.

Why may car accident passengers not be the 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.

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