4 Reasons Why You May Need Witnesses After a Car AccidentSeptember 30, 2023
Car accident witnesses can be crucial after wrecks. From calling police to sharing details about what they saw, witnesses to auto accidents can fill in the blanks, providing key evidence related to fault, damages, and more.
Whether bystanders or others observe any part of a collision, here’s how and why you may need witnesses after a motor vehicle accident.
How Car Accident Witnesses Can Help You After a Motor Vehicle Accident: 4 Ways
You may never see a wreck coming. Even if you do, witnesses to the auto accident may see it first — or they could see more or different vantage points. Regardless of whether they see the beginning, middle, and/or end of a wreck, car accident witnesses may provide indispensable assistance in the following ways.
1. Witnesses can back up your version of events.
A witness to a crash may share details that align with the story you’ve provided to authorities at the scene, like police who respond to 911 calls.
When lawyers, insurance companies, and others review the details of police reports, later seeing your account mirror witnesses’ statements, it can go a long way toward:
- Establishing your credibility: You can come across as a more credible witness when your details match those reported by witnesses. Alternatively, if witness accounts conflict with your story, that could give insurance companies and others reasons to second guess what you’ve said.
- Quieting conflicting accounts: When multiple parties report similar details, the outlying accounts alleging something different can be suspect, if not easier to refute.
Depending on vantage points and what witnesses saw, they may be able to confirm critical details, like (but not limited to):
- Weather conditions
- Road and traffic conditions
- The time of the collision
- Exactly where the crash occurred
- Who did what after the accident happened
2. A witness can help establish fault.
Eyewitnesses to motor vehicle accidents can see all sorts of specifics that reveal more about how a crash happened and who may be to blame for it. To that end, car accident witnesses may see and be able to say more regarding potential:
- Traffic law violations, like speeding, running red lights, and failing to yield the right-of-way
- Motorist misbehaviors, such as texting while driving, sudden swerving, or driving erratically
- Visible motorist impairment, like sleeping at the wheel, head bobbing, or driving the wrong way down one-way streets
- Road rage, including excessive honking and yelling, aggressive driving, and zigzagging in and out of traffic
Witnesses may also observe circumstances, like the following, possibly adding another layer to the issue of liability and opening up other avenues to explore fault:
- Tires shredding or tire blowouts right before a wreck
- Loss of vehicle power before a crash
- Cargo falling off of 18-wheelers or commercial vehicles
- Jackknifing or runaway tractor-trailers
- Risky or poor road conditions
- Confusing detours
- Risky highway work zones
3. A witness can describe injuries and/or visible impairment after the crash.
Eyewitnesses to wrecks may see physical injuries, unconscious victims, victims trapped in vehicles, and other types of trauma right after a collision. These and other observations can provide more information about the trauma victims may have suffered, as well as:
- Whether they were able to move or speak after an accident
- How coherent the victims may have been after a crash
- What victims and/or other parties said right after a collision
With that, car accident witnesses may also be able to share or affirm details related to drunk or drugged driving.
Specifically, witnesses may be able to confirm or elaborate on whether or when an involved driver does any of the following after a wreck:
- Stumbles around
- Speaks incoherently
- Smells of alcohol or marijuana
- Admits to alcohol or drug use
4. A witness can provide expert insight.
Up until this point, the discussion has focused on how eyewitnesses can help accident victims. There are, however, other witnesses who may provide support when it’s time to file a claim and seek compensation, and those can be expert witnesses.
In particular, expert witnesses can:
- Recreate the collision.
- Add insight regarding point(s) of impact.
- Elaborate on the chain of events that led up to the crash.
- Speak to the injuries and damages sustained, including physical injuries, psychological trauma, and financial losses.
- Analyze, interpret, and explain more complicated evidence, like data on electronic onboard recorders.
Car Accident Witnesses: A Word of Caution
As important as witnesses can be in motor vehicle accident investigations and claims, it’s critical to understand that:
- Witnesses don’t always get it right: Even with the best of intentions, witnesses may misremember things or get the facts wrong, especially if they’re recounting details from incidents they saw weeks or months earlier. That’s why it’s important to crosscheck the info provided by witnesses as much as possible.
- Not all expert witnesses are “equal”: Different experts come with distinct experience and their own unique perspectives. That means that the defense can bring their own experts to the table, with opposing points of view. And that’s why it’s so vital to select the right experts who can anticipate and readily overcome those defense counterpoints.
- Witnesses may not be the only evidence available: Witness statements can be incredibly helpful, and it is generally best to support those statements with other evidence when at all possible. That means using documents, photographs, and other evidence with any statements provided by witnesses to craft a more compelling case and position it for a better outcome.
How Do I Find Witnesses for My Car Accident?
Whether or not you connect with witnesses at the scene right after a crash happens, here are a few other ways to possibly track down other witnesses to support a potential claim:
- Review the police report: These reports can detail the witnesses that police spoke to at the scene, including passengers in other vehicles, motorists not in the wreck, and passersby.
- Take a close look at your accident scene photos: The pictures you (or others) took could feature people in the background who have seen something important. Your photos may also show other folks snapping photos, giving you a lead on other pictures out there that may hold more important evidence.
- Review any video footage too: Watch any videos of the auto accident that you have (or have access to). Like accident scene pictures, videos may point you to other people or possible evidence, including nearby surveillance cameras that may have recorded more.
- Talk to a car accident attorney: A lawyer can take the lead on tracking down more potential witnesses while helping you determine if your claim would benefit from expert witnesses. If so, an attorney can select the best-fit experts to support your case.
To find out more about how an auto accident lawyer can help you with witnesses and a potential claim, set up an initial consultation and get confidential answers at zero charge or obligation.