The Importance of Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases
If you were injured in a car accident or other personal injury scenario like slip and fall because of the negligence of another, you may be wondering how you are going to pay for your medical bills and make up lost wages while you recover. You may even be facing permanent disability and the prospect that you may never be able to work again. The best thing to do is speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can explain your legal rights: you may be able to recover damages through a personal injury settlement or jury award.
The importance of witnesses in personal injury cases
When determining if you have a case, the injury attorney will want to know whether you have sufficient evidence to prove negligent behavior. One of the ways that negligence can be proved is through witness statements and witness testimony. This is why it is so important to gather contact information from any witnesses right after the accident if at all possible. Witnesses will be contacted by your personal injury attorney to seek a written or recorded statement if you did not already obtain one.
How witnesses can help:
- Reinforcing your claim for settlement. When an impartial witness shares an account of the accident that matches your claim, it can be a very compelling motivation for the at-fault insurance company to settle.
- Reinforcing your claim at trial. While it is rare for personal injury cases to go to trial, for cases that do, witnesses are very important for convincing the judge or jury that the other party was at-fault for the accident. Ideally, a witness can testify in person but otherwise, their written or recorded statement may also be enough.
How a personal injury attorney helps with witnesses
Your personal injury attorney will do everything they can to contact witnesses and get statements as soon as they take on your case. Timing is important because studies have shown that over time, people’s memories fade, making it difficult to get an accurate statement the longer it has been since the accident.
Accident victims who are able to look for people at the scene who may have witnessed the accident and the events that led up to the accident should do so. Ideally, witnesses will provide their name and contact information and wait at the scene of the accident so they can give a statement to police officers for the police report. Note that witnesses are not obligated to provide a statement or stay at the scene of a crash. If they don’t want to wait for police officers, ask politely if they are willing to give you a statement. Write down everything they say and ask if they will sign it. Alternately, ask if they are willing to record their statement on a video on your phone.
Don’t forget to take notes about anything the other driver says to you after the accident. If they apologize or admit to making a mistake then that could be used against them in settlement negotiations. On that note, it’s important that you don’t make any statements of admissions of guilt to the other driver.
Who could be a witness to your accident?
A witness is anyone who was there to see the accident. In a car accident case, it may be a pedestrian, drivers of vehicles nearby at the time of the crash, construction workers or even a passenger in your own vehicle. Ideally, though, a witness will be a neutral party such as a pedestrian. Other types of personal injury claims will have different witnesses such as an RN who witnessed a surgeon acting negligently (medical malpractice) or an employee who told their employer about a hazardous situation and the employer failed to fix it or put up a hazard sign in a timely manner (slip and fall).
Seek the help of a personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!