You have likely heard that having witnesses to your auto accident is important. Many people assume witnesses are important for trials, but witnesses can help you in many other ways as well. Having one or more witnesses to your accident isn't absolutely necessary, but witnesses can make a big difference.
1. Witnesses Help Give Your Claim More Weight
From the very start, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will try to pick your claim apart. Your claim will go under a microscope. Everything you say can become flipped and skewed.
In this way, the insurance company can find a reason to offer a lower settlement. This will also give the insurance company enough incentive to feel comfortable with going to trial.
Having one or more witnesses will add more weight to your claim. A witness is another voice and offers another viewpoint of the same incident.
When more than one set of eyes agree with your claim, the insurance company is spurred to offer a better settlement — and faster. Just having verifiable witnesses can give the insurance company pause.
2. Witnesses Can Help Before a Trial
Witnesses who tell your side of the story can certainly help during a trial. However, even before a trial comes close to starting, a witness can testify or give statements during a disposition.
Once again, the words of a witness can corroborate your story and move the insurance company to forego the trial altogether. Purposefully using witnesses before a trial can serve you better in some ways.
Your witnesses are people, and many people aren't always ready to go to trial for someone else. Some are much more comfortable simply giving a statement or attending a disposition outside the courtroom.
3. Witnesses Can Lower Your Fault Percentage
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state. The more fault assigned to you for the accident, the less you can win in damages. Even if you do hold some fault for your accident and injury, you can work towards lowering the amount of blame assigned to you.
Witnesses can do that with their statements or testimonies. The more you can lower your percentage of liability, the more you can demand for your medical bills and lost wages.
4. Witnesses Sometimes Volunteer Themselves
In the aftermath of an accident, your highest priority is to seek medical attention. You may not have the wherewithal to ask the people around you for their contact information. If possible, you can direct someone else to do it for you.
Some people will give their statements to the police without anyone asking them. When they speak to law enforcement, they will also give their contact information.
These people are witnesses you didn't have to seek out on your own. While not ideal, you can use those statements or subpoena those people to go on record about what they saw.
Witnesses Do Come With Caveats
Occasionally, leaving a witness out of the process can help you just as much as bringing them into it. Some witnesses may lack credibility. Sometimes it's better to have a witness just to say you have a witness. You don't always have to use the witness.
Dealing with witnesses isn't something to attempt on your own. Witnesses aren't all the same. You need the right witnesses. An attorney can find, vet, and pick the perfect witnesses for your case.
Witnesses represent only a part of the process. You should still have legal assistance for everything else that comes with a personal injury claim. Palmetto Injury Lawyers can help you find the right witnesses and guide you through your personal injury claim. Contact us today for a consultation.