Serious personal injuries can occur as a result of car accidents in West Palm Beach. When other drivers are to blame, our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers help you hold them accountable. Witness statements play an important role in your case. Find out what to do if there were no car accident witnesses and the types of testimony that can be used instead.
Why are accident witnesses important in a personal injury case?
Car accidents are complex events that happen quickly. Drivers may not have even seen the crash coming and are often in shock in the aftermath. Car accident witnesses can help fill in details about the crash, such as:
- The time of the accident;
- Where it happened;
- The number of drivers involved;
- Their impressions regarding who was to blame.
As information provided by witnesses often helps in determining how a car accident happened and who was at fault, it can play a major role in helping you get the compensation you may be entitled to in a claim.
What are regular types of witnesses used in a personal injury case?
When a car accident in West Palm Beach happens, police reports are required to include the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene. This includes:
- Drivers and passengers in other vehicles;
- Bicyclists or pedestrians who were nearby when the crash occurred;
- Emergency responders, who may have attended to injured victims;
- People in homes or office buildings in the immediate vicinity, who may have observed your car accident happen.
Even if a witness did not directly observe a crash, their statements could provide important evidence in your claim. For example, someone may have seen the driver speeding or otherwise engaging in erratic behavior prior to the collision. Witnesses may have also overheard statements made by a driver admitting they were at fault. These types of witness statements may or may not be admissible in court.
What is an expert witness in a Florida personal injury case?
Under the Florida Statutes, an expert’s duty is to assist counsel in understanding evidence already presented or in determining an issue of fact. To qualify, they must have scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge, experience, training, or skills that would apply to the case. Common types of expert witnesses include:
- Accident reconstruction experts, who can testify as to the likely causes of the crash.
- Forensic experts, who can testify on other evidence presented in the case and how it applies.
- Manufacturing experts, who can testify about the vehicles involved.
- Medical experts, who can testify about the injuries each driver suffered.
Are all witnesses credible?
Passengers in car accidents seem like an obvious choice for witnesses, but as they likely have a personal relationship with the driver and their own claim, they are generally not considered credible. A credible witness is generally an impartial third party. Even if they do not know either driver involved, there are other factors that could affect credibility:
- If the witness was focused on other tasks at the time of the crash;
- If they were not sufficiently close to the accident scene or had objects obstructing their view;
- If they only observed part of the accident;
- If they rely on others as part of their observations.
Other factors that could damage a witness’s credibility are poor vision, being on medications or otherwise impaired, conflicting statements, and a criminal record. Lack of credibility casts doubts that could prove damaging to your case.
What information should be included and excluded in an accident witness statement?
The following checklist details the type of information that should be included as part of a witness statement:
- The full legal name of the witness;
- Their address, phone number, and email;
- The direction each car was traveling prior to the crash;
- How the crash happened;
- Where each car ended up after;
- Lighting and weather conditions at the time;
- Who all was involved;
- Whether they appeared injured;
- Whether there were others at the scene.
Information to exclude includes guesses about the crash and opinions not based on facts. A witness statement should also be neutral, excluding personal feelings about what happened.
What to do if you suffered an accident with no witnesses
Witnesses play a key role in filing a car accident claim. If you suffered an accident with no witnesses, take these steps:
- Get copies of police reports, which generally include witness information;
- Gather other evidence, such as pictures from the accident scene and surveillance tapes;
- Consult with our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers, who can hire expert witnesses.
Our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers can help you find the right witnesses
At Fetterman & Associates, P.A., we have been protecting the rights of people injured in car accidents in Florida for over 40 years. You can count on us to take the actions needed to help you get the compensation you may be entitled to, which includes obtaining witness statements. To request a free consultation, contact our West Palm car accident lawyers online or give us a call today.