Because of the technology available today, we can obtain far more evidence right after a car accident than ever before. Almost everyone has a cell phone or other hand-held electronic device with a camera. Drivers can take pictures of the accident scene showing the position of the vehicles, the damage to the vehicles, the weather, traffic signs, and other evidence such as skid marks. This is extremely helpful in a car accident lawsuit; however, it does not conclusively show "how" the accident occurred.
If fault for the accident is in dispute, we need more evidence to prove that the other driver is at fault. In some cases, we may need to hire a professional accident reconstructionist. This person uses the physical evidence from the accident scene to "recreate" the accident to prove the other driver was at fault. Having an independent witness can assist in this process and strengthen the case against the other driver.
What Is an Independent Witness?
An independent witness is a third party not involved in the accident who witnessed how the accident happened.
An independent eyewitness is different from the other witnesses to the car accident. You, your passengers, the other driver, and any passengers in the other car are all witnesses to the car accident. However, the testimony of everyone involved in the car accident can be called into question. Your testimony and the testimony of your passengers is important and valuable; however, the testimony from an independent witness tends to be more convincing to a jury.
Why Is an Independent Witness More Convincing?
Juries tend to find the testimony of independent witnesses more convincing because they do not have a "stake" in the outcome of the trial. In other words, the independent witness does not benefit or suffer from the jury's verdict. It is not that a jury may not believe your testimony or the testimony of your witnesses but having an independent witness to corroborate your version of how the accident happened is extremely helpful in convincing a jury that the other driver is at fault.
Examples of independent witnesses are:
- People looking out from surrounding properties; and,
- Drivers and passengers of other vehicles not involved in the accident.
It is crucial that you obtain the names and contact information for any impartial eyewitnesses to your accident before they leave the accident scene. Because memories fade over time, it is very helpful to get a personal injury attorney involved as soon as possible. The attorney can take the deposition of the impartial independent witness while the facts are fresh.
Can a Passenger Be a Witness in a Car Accident?
Short answer: yes. Anyone who witnesses a car accident firsthand can provide eyewitness testimony. However, the eyewitness testimony of someone who knows the defendant or plaintiff may be less convincing to a jury. While a passenger provides the most accurate view of the moments leading up to a car accident, a passenger's credibility may also come into question in court. Juries may question whether a passenger's eyewitness testimony is biased in favor of proving their friend or loved one was not at fault. The most valuable witnesses are independent eyewitnesses—people who have no stake in the case's outcome.
Call Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC
Contact our car accident attorneys for a free consultation. Our attorneys can immediately begin an accident investigation to identify and preserve key evidence to prove the other driver is at fault. You cannot collect damages unless you can prove the other driver is at fault. The sooner we can begin putting together evidence to prove fault, the stronger your case will be against the other driver. A strong case will often convince the insurance company to settle for a fair amount without the necessity of prolonged, costly litigation.