This installment of our series on evidence in a Motor Vehicle Accident case includes possibly the most difficult to obtain, however, it is often the most valuable evidence in a case. This is the testimony of independent eyewitnesses. This includes eyewitnesses to the event as well as eyewitnesses to the pain and suffering the injured person has experienced.
Testimony from Eyewitnesses to the Event
Regarding eyewitnesses to the event, it is extremely important to identify these witnesses and make contact with them as soon as possible. Often these people are identified on the police report, but not always. Look for persons who work at a business that was adjacent to the accident scene or nearby residents. Perhaps the accident occurred at a time when there would be the same repetitive traffic, such as work commuters or school commuters. These witnesses may have relevant information but did not stop to talk with the police at the time of the accident due to their own personal deadlines and needs.
These eyewitnesses should be recorded, or they should sign or provide a written statement to preserve their testimony and refresh their recollection of the events at a later court date. Details must be documented and retained before they are lost due to time delays. Important information to ascertain would be detailed testimony about how the event occurred. For example, did the other driver roll through the stop sign or drive through without ever stopping or slowing? What was the speed of all the vehicles involved? Was there questionable or negligent conduct that led to distracted driving, such as using a cell phone? Also, did the witness hear the other driver make any admissions against their own interests? These are statements that acknowledge guilt or fault. Examples would be statements from the driver like “I’m sorry,” or “I didn’t see him coming.”
Testimony from Eyewitnesses to the Pain and Suffering
Regarding eyewitnesses to the pain and suffering, these witnesses are also often called “Damages Witnesses” or “Before and After Witnesses.” These are people who are familiar with the injured person’s general health, physical abilities, activities and resolve. These witnesses need to have familiarity with the injured person prior to the event and subsequent to the event so they can give comparison testimony of how the event impacted the injured person’s life. These are the most important witnesses in getting fair value of the case at trial because they can provide testimony and examples of the impact that has been inflicted upon the injured person and their enjoyment of life. While these witnesses can be a family member or close friend, it is best to also have “non-biased” witnesses, such as a neighbor, parent, teacher from your child’s school, fellow church member, co-worker, supervisor, coach, fitness instructor or just someone who has had the opportunity to observe the injured person throughout this time period as well as before the accident ever occurred. It can even be the cashier at the gas station or grocery store that you visit regularly. Independent witness testimony carries substantially greater weight than the testimony of a relative or close friend because there are no assumed biases to undermine the truthfulness of the testimony.
This is the fourth installment of our 5-part series covering the essential evidence you’ll need when filing a motor vehicle accident claim. To learn more, revisit one of our past blogs, listed below, and make sure to check back for the fifth and final piece!
- Part 1: Medical Records
- Part 2: Medical Bills & Lost Wages
- Part 3: Photographic Evidence