Car accidents are frequent in America, including Port St. Lucie, Florida roads. For example, Florida recorded 341,399 traffic crashes in 2020, with 3,332 fatalities. In Port St. Lucie alone, there were 4,713 crashes and 49 fatalities. Fortunately, Florida law allows car accident victims to recover compensation for their accident losses. An excellent Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyer can help here.
Notably, most attorneys advise that the success of an accident claim depends on the available evidence. Therefore, the more robust an accident victim’s proof is, the higher their chances are of winning a suit. One such crucial source of accident evidence is witnesses. A personal injury lawyer will most likely call witnesses during the compensation process. So, are these witnesses essential?
Who Is a Witness?
The word “witness” has several applications. Even in law, there’s no restrictive meaning for the term. A broad definition would be that a witness is anyone that gives evidence. This evidence could be in court or during accident settlement negotiations. If you’ve watched any courtroom dramas, those who testify in court about facts are witnesses.
Types of Witnesses
There are many types of witnesses. However, not all of them are relevant to accident cases. Below, we explain the two important categories of accident witnesses.
When most people talk about witnesses, they’re referring to eyewitnesses. As the name implies, an eyewitness is someone that saw an event. An accident eyewitness will be anyone that saw a personal injury accident happen. Eyewitnesses usually testify about what they saw and observed during a mishap. Therefore, they merely state the facts as they experienced them.
Notably, eyewitnesses aren’t expected to interpret or give opinions on the events they saw. This job is left for the judge, jury, or settlement negotiators, as the case may be. Accident victims are primary witnesses of the mishap. However, there are other possible witnesses. For example, witnesses to a car crash could include:
- Other drivers not involved in the collision
- Pedestrians unaffected by the accident
- Businesses owners, customers, and workers around the accident scene
Expert witnesses are different from eyewitnesses. They neither saw nor have firsthand knowledge of the incident. Instead, they’re to render expert opinions on the facts. Courts usually call expert witnesses when they cannot reach reliable conclusions on specific points.
Therefore, the court allows them to give opinions in their fields of expertise. This must be after the party calling such experts has satisfied the court with the expert’s qualifications. Expert witnesses also often speak on technical points, which may be complex for the jury. That’s why lawyers call them to explain complex concepts in ways the jury can understand.
Possible expert witnesses for accident cases include:
- Doctors and other medical practitioners
- Physical therapists
- Car accident reconstruction professionals
- Financial analysts
- Accountants or forensic accountants
- Highway safety experts
- Vocational experts
Are Witnesses Important for Accident Claims?
Yes, witnesses are essential in personal injury cases. They’re so vital that it can be doubtful to win an accident case without calling a witness. Notably, there are several reasons for the essential nature of accident witnesses. We explain them below.
Establishing How the Accident Occurred
The first thing witnesses do is prove that the crash happened. This shows the court and/or insurance company that a claim isn’t fraudulent. Furthermore, witnesses state how the accident occurred. Vital facts here would include:
- Which party caused the mishap
- What they were doing
- Where the accident happened
- When the mishap occurred
Usually, eyewitnesses are necessary to establish these facts. These witnesses from the accident scene are essential to crash survivors’ cases.
Linking the Victim’s Injuries and Losses to the Accident
Having injuries doesn’t necessarily mean that the accident caused the wounds. Therefore, witnesses are necessary to connect the injuries to the accident. For example, medical doctors can testify about the accident victim’s wounds when they arrived at the hospital.
From the testimony of eyewitnesses, physics experts can also testify on the possibility of the crash causing those injuries. Witnesses can also link property and vehicle damage to the collision.
Witnesses can also help preserve essential evidence. For example, many people record accident scenes on their phones and other digital devices. Such video or photographic records can prove the accident case’s facts. What’s more? These smartphones have impressive memory capacities.
The evidence can last for several months or even years. Therefore, even if human memory fails, collision victims can still rely on electronic evidence to prove their claim. First, however, they must track down such witnesses and obtain the evidence.
What Is the Importance of Expert Witnesses?
Expert witnesses aren’t always necessary. Since they establish particular facts, they’ll only be needed if such facts are disputed. For example, a plaintiff will only need a psychologist to prove the psychological effects of the accident. However, if the accident had no psychological impact, then a psychologist is not needed.
How To Gather Witness Statements
Witness statements are official narrations by witnesses of what they saw concerning accidents. These are often short, written summaries from people who physically witnessed an accident. Notably, the best time to find witnesses is immediately after an accident. However, accident victims may be unable to do this because of their injuries.
Therefore, it’ll be best to call an attorney who can immediately track down relevant witnesses. In addition, it’s best to take witness statements soon after the mishap. This is because their memory is still fresh and reliable even after their emotions have settled.
No Detail Is Too Small
No detail is irrelevant when gathering witness statements. Instead, it’s best to write down everything a witness can remember. Seemingly unrelated issues include:
- Weather conditions on the accident date
- Colors of traffic lights
- Whether the other driver was wearing a seat belt
- Who called emergency services and when
- What position did the witness see the accident from
These issues may look irrelevant, but they can establish crucial points in a case.
Can I Have Too Many Witnesses?
Yes, an accident victim could have too many witnesses. Witnesses are vital in accident cases. However, the strength of a claim isn’t necessarily dependent on how many witnesses a lawyer calls. Instead, the credibility and value of the witnesses’ testimony are crucial. Calling five witnesses to establish a particular issue is thus unnecessary if there is one solid witness.
Similarly, ten unreliable witnesses will do little to help a case. The more unreliable witnesses present, the greater the harm to an accident case. Multiple witnesses can also increase the trial or settlement negotiation periods. Thus, it is best to carefully select from the witness pool.
Port St. Lucie Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help with Your Accident Case
A person injured in a Port St. Lucie auto accident may be eligible for compensation. First, however, they should seek advice from the best Port St. Lucie personal injury attorneys. Fortunately, they can have the legal advice and guidance they need with the help of the attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers (by appointment only). Our lawyers understand the relevance of witnesses to accident cases. We can evaluate claims, track witnesses, guide you through the legal process, and help you seek compensation. Call us today on (561) 800-8000 for a free consultation.