Is A Witness Necessary In A Trucking Accident Case?
After a truck accident, the last thing you’re probably worried about is whether reliable witnesses will be willing to testify on your behalf. You may be scared, shaken, and pumped full of adrenaline, so it’s no wonder why victims of trucking accidents might fail to find witnesses to their accidents.
However, it’s critical to understand that should you decide to pursue legal action against the person who caused your wreck, one of the most important pieces of evidence you can provide is eyewitness testimony supporting your claim. While witness testimony isn’t necessary to win a case, it makes winning one much easier—so if you can locate anyone who witnessed your accident, you should.
What if There Are No Witnesses to My Trucking Accident?
It’s not uncommon for a trucking accident to have zero witnesses. So if no one was around to witness your incident, detailed documentation will be your best friend. Record all the details of the accident as best as you and as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more likely your memories will become unreliable.
If you have a voice note app on your phone, record yourself going over each detail of the accident that you can recall. Also, take photos of the scene—making sure to snap pictures of the damage to your car, any injuries you may have, the surrounding areas of the crash site, and any other physical evidence around you.
Kinds of Witnesses in Trucking Accidents
Two types of witnesses can testify on your behalf during a case: experts who help to strengthen your testimony and eyewitnesses who saw the accident firsthand.
Eyewitnesses are people who witnessed your trucking accident firsthand. They can provide testimony explaining exactly how the accident happened, which typically goes to strengthening your case. Eyewitnesses are much more impactful when they do not have a relationship with the plaintiff (i.e., they are not friends or family in the passenger seat of the plaintiff’s car at the time of the incident). A neutral, third-party account of the accident makes for a much stronger case. These witnesses can be:
- Other motorists
- Other locals who were nearby (i.e., shopping or working) at the time of the crash
The more complex your case, the more likely your attorney is to consult with expert witnesses on your behalf. This could include medical professionals, mental health care providers, safety experts, engineers, accident reconstruction professionals, or anyone else who could give a qualified opinion about why the defendant was responsible for the incident.
The Importance of Witness Testimony in an Accident
Witnesses who are impartial to the victim of the trucking accident can play a critical role in proving the at-fault party’s guilt. For example, an eyewitness may have noticed that the truck driver was falling asleep behind the wheel shortly before the accident, helping to show that the plaintiff bears no responsibility for the accident. Witness accounts may poke holes in the defense’s case, proving the accident did, in fact, result from their negligence behind the wheel.
Calling the authorities at the scene of your truck accident will also help strengthen your case. Once they arrive, they will create an accident report, collecting witness contact information and accounts. However, before authorities arrive, it’s important to jot down the numbers of any eyewitnesses in case they leave before officers make it to the scene. Any contact information will come in handy later on.
What Can Affect Witness Testimony?
Not all witness testimony is made equal. Expect any witness you call to your case to be questioned thoroughly by the defendant’s insurance company, which is looking to find weaknesses in your story. Factors that can affect witness credibility include:
Their Connection to the Victim
If a witness has any kind of relationship with you, be it familial, romantic, or friendship, they will consider it a conflict of interest. They will consider any statements by these witnesses to be inherently biased.
The Consistency of Their Story
If a witness is inconsistent with their testimony, the insurance company will likely call their judgment into question or consider it invalid altogether.
Their Health Status
Insurers are also less likely to place a high value on witnesses with impairments that might affect their perception of the wreck, including visual impairments, cognitive deficits, or anything else that would skew their version of events.
How Much They Actually Saw
What the witness visibly observes will affect the importance of their statement. The less of the wreck they witnessed, the less important their statement becomes.
After a truck accident, eyewitness testimony can be one of the most powerful pieces of evidence to win you the compensation you deserve. However, in many instances, there are no witnesses or the witnesses that do exist lack credibility. It’s still possible to receive the settlement offer that you deserve. Still, it’s critical to document as much of the accident scene as possible and to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
If you’re struggling to prove your case without credible witnesses to assist your claim, contacting an experienced truck accident attorney can help you to overcome the challenges of convincing insurers that the at-fault party was responsible for your accident.