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Getting compensation after a car accident claim requires one thing above all else: evidence. You need evidence to prove a few important things, including that another driver caused the crash and caused you to suffer injuries.
Some of the most critical pieces of evidence in any car accident claim are witness statements. Although witness accounts of crashes aren't always 100% reliable, they can help paint more precise pictures of what happened for police officers and insurance adjusters when it's time to determine fault and award compensation.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we believe witnesses play a crucial role in corroborating our clients' versions of events and helping establish negligent drivers' liability. In this blog post, we'll delve into five reasons witnesses are vital for car accident claims in Ohio.
Witnesses provide an impartial account of the accident. Their statements can help corroborate your story and provide an objective perspective of what happened. Insurance companies and juries often give more weight to witness testimonies than the testimonies of drivers and passengers, as the witnesses weren't directly involved in the accidents and have no vested interest in their outcomes.
Determining fault is a crucial aspect of car accident claims. Ohio follows a comparative negligence system, which means that the compensation you receive can be reduced based on your level of responsibility for the accident.
Witnesses can help confirm who was at fault by accurately recollecting the events leading up to the collision. Their statements can support your claim and help establish the other party's negligence while reducing your liability level—and that can mean more money for you.
Memories can be hazy, especially after a traumatic car accident. Witnesses can help fill in the gaps in your memory and clarify the sequence of events. Their descriptions can help recreate the accident scene and shed light on factors that might have been overlooked. This can be particularly valuable when reconstructing the accident for legal purposes.
One of the most common issues after crashes is drivers disagreeing about what happened just before the crash occurred. For example, a driver who gets hit after merging at a yield sign may say the other driver was speeding, while the non-merging driver may say the driver they struck didn't look or yield long enough to avoid a collision. A witness who saw the crash can help determine who is telling the truth.
Witnesses can provide crucial evidence for your case throughout the legal process. Their contact information, statements, and other relevant information can be documented and used to build a strong legal argument during the negotiation process. If your case goes to court, witnesses may be called upon to provide their side of the story in front of the judge and jury, which can also help bolster your credibility and chances of getting compensation.
If you can do so safely, look around the crash scene for people who might have witnessed the accident. Potential witnesses could be pedestrians, other drivers, passengers in nearby vehicles, or nearby business owners or residents.
Approach potential witnesses and ask if they saw the accident. Explain that you were involved in the accident and ask if they would be willing to provide a statement about what they saw. If the witness agrees to give a statement, get their full name, phone number, and email address. This information will be crucial for follow-up communication and potentially for legal purposes if they are called to testify.
If you have a smartphone or a pen and paper, you can record witnesses' statements—but be sure to ask them for permission first. Ask them to describe what they saw in as much detail as possible. Encourage them to provide a chronological account of the events leading up to and following the accident. Request they also stay to speak to the responding police officer as part of the accident report.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we use evidence, including witness statements, to help injured victims get maximum compensation for their damages every day. In addition to using witness statements provided to us by police and our clients, we often collect witness testimony to bolster our clients' claims further.
After a crash, we believe your only goal should be resting and focusing on your recovery. Let our Ohio auto accident attorneys put their decades of experience to work while you work hard to get better. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how we can help.
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