If you have been involved in a Miami accident, you can seek compensatory damages with help from a Miami car accident lawyer. Witness statements can help you get that compensatory damage settlement. Florida is a no-fault state. This means that in most Miami accidents, you will be required to seek damages from your own insurer. The insurer is required to pay up regardless of who was at fault. However, the PIP coverage which pays for these damages is capped at $10,000. So if your damages are greater or if you suffered significant injuries, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver.
When you file against the at-fault party, you will be required to prove liability. And this is where witness statements are immensely important. These are the statements provided by any eyewitnesses who were present at the scene of the accident. Such statements are considered a valuable piece of evidence in a car accident claim.
Why are Witness Statements Important?
Witness statements are very important in car accident claims. If the witness statements are recorded correctly and clearly support your claim, you have much better odds of success. Here are some of the reasons why these statements are so important:
Eyewitnesses on the scene of an accident are independent and unbiased. They are able to narrate the chain of events from a neutral, third-party viewpoint as they are not directly affected by the crash. For this reason, a judge and the members of a jury lay more credibility with an eyewitness’s account of the accident.
Witnesses present on the crash scene may take photos or record videos from their viewpoint. Such information can be an invaluable piece of evidence in proving your case. If such information is available, it may even persuade the at-fault party to settle your claim without going to court.
If there is no video evidence of an accident, the only way for law enforcement and the jury to get the basic facts is by listening to eyewitness accounts. These accounts become even more important when CCTV camera footage or photos of a crash are missing.
An eyewitness is able to provide details that may not be available through any other means. For instance, a witness may confirm that a driver was using a mobile phone just before the crash occurred. Such fine details may not be captured by any CCTV cameras.
How to Gather Witness Statements?
The whole process of gathering witness statements starts right at the crash scene. In the wake of an accident, it is highly recommended that you identify the eyewitnesses and then gather relevant details about them. Such details should primarily include their contact info. Eyewitnesses can be people who are passing by the crash scene, the drivers or passengers of other uninvolved vehicles, business owners close to the site, and so on.
On the crash scene, you can ask the witnesses about their version of the crash. You can then politely ask them for contact information and see if they would be willing to provide a formal statement for legal use. A witness’ statement is useful only if he or she saw the crash firsthand and can communicate its details clearly.
When you later file a claim for damages, you will need to contact the witnesses and agree upon a date and time when they would be willing to provide a statement. Your lawyer can liaison with the witness to make sure the statement is useful for your claim.
Factors Affecting Witness Credibility
When it comes to witness statements, the perceived credibility of a witness is critically important. If a judge and jury think that a witness comes off as credible, they are likely to give weight to the witness’s statement. If the witness has questionable credibility, the court may discard the statement.
To help a victim stay credible, here are some tips:
- Make sure the statement of the eyewitness remains consistent and the same throughout the legal process.
- Make sure the eyewitness only sticks to the details that he or she saw firsthand.
- Make sure the witness is not related to your, or the other party, and has no direct stake in the outcome of the case.
- Make sure the witness has a clean record and hasn’t been criminally convicted in the past.
- Make sure the witness dresses formally and looks trustworthy in the court.
Hiring a Reliable Miami Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered a car accident in Miami and intend to file a claim for damages against the at-fault driver, you will require legal help. A good lawyer can help you get in touch with the witnesses and solicit witness statements to support your case. Here at Englander Peebles, we help Miami car crash victims recover a fair amount of compensation. Our lawyers help you through all stages of a claim. Contact us today for a detailed discussion of your car crash claim.