Whether you have been injured while driving a vehicle or in a pedestrian accident, lawyers will tell you how crucial it is to gather eyewitness evidence.
In many cases handled by car accident lawyers, liability is disputed – each driver blames the other and tells a different version of how the accident occurred. In any case where liability is disputed, evidence from an impartial eyewitness can carry significant weight. Independent witnesses, who have no personal or financial stake in the outcome of the claim, are often viewed by the courts as credible and reliable, and their evidence may be particularly persuasive in the determination of who is at fault for the accident. In fact, with a strong eyewitness on your side, ICBC may be more likely to settle your claim early, making it unnecessary to resort to the courts in order to obtain the compensation you deserve.
An example of how witness evidence can help your personal injury claim
Take the following example: a collision occurs in an intersection between a left-turning vehicle and your vehicle as you are proceeding straight through the intersection. The left-turning driver says the light was a stale yellow and turned red while he completed his turn. You, on the other hand, maintain that the light was green and that you had the right of way the whole time. If there are no eyewitnesses, ICBC will aggressively challenge your statement and attempt to apportion fault for the accident to you. Car accident ICBC lawyers can assist by gathering objective evidence to establish which driver’s version of events is more likely (e.g., the location of damage on the vehicles, traffic signal timing information, data from traffic cameras if you are lucky). But what would really “win the day” is testimony from a person who was at the intersection when the accident occurred and clearly saw what happened. If there is a person (or better yet, people) who are consistent in stating that the traffic light was green at the moment of the collision, deliberation as to who was at fault may not be necessary. Another prime example is a hit-and-run accident - it helps your claim immensely if you are able to provide ICBC with the names and contact information of witnesses who saw the other driver hit you and flee the scene.
Personal injury lawyers recommend getting witness info at the scene
If you are involved in a motor vehicle or pedestrian accident, it is of vital importance to collect the names and contact information of any witnesses while still at the scene of the accident (of course, that is assuming that you are not prohibited from doing so because of the injuries you sustained). Police do not always attend the scene of an accident. If police do attend the scene, they will canvass for witnesses, but it is prudent for you to also gather that information – names, contact information, and statements – from as many witnesses as you can. Pass that contact information on to your personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, as your lawyer can then obtain signed witness statements, if necessary, to preserve the evidence. The sooner statements are taken from witnesses the better, as memories tend to fade over time. Your car accident lawyer can also leverage that evidence to achieve an early, favourable settlement of your personal injury claim.
Conflicting or unfavourable eyewitness evidence
In some cases, the evidence of independent witnesses may conflict with evidence of other witnesses, making the determination of fault more complicated. In the worst case scenario, evidence from an independent witness will contradict your version of how the accident occurred. An experienced personal injury lawyer can be invaluable in such situations. Skilled car accident lawyers can challenge conflicting or unfavourable witnesses using a number of methods – by questioning the witness’ ability to clearly see the accident when it occurred, by challenging the witness’ memory of the accident due to the passage of time, by exploiting variations or contradictions in the witness’ recollection of events, and by attacking the witness’ credibility, accuracy, and trustworthiness. Bronson Jones & Company LLP law firm has over 30 years of experience dealing with ICBC and other insurers. We are a plaintiffs-only, personal injury law firm. If you have been injured in a car accident and liability is disputed, contact one of our personal injury lawyers today to arrange you free initial consultation. We can help build your claim and strive to achieve the best compensation for your injuries.
Legal Guidance & More: From Injury to Recovery
Bronson Jones & Company’s motor vehicle and pedestrian accident lawyers have significant trial experience and extensive experience in negotiating fair settlements for clients injured in vehicle accidents. We have also developed a comprehensive network of medical and occupational specialists, therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and others to help you recover and deal with the impact of your injury on your physical health, family life, finances and future. Reports from these experts may be essential in the development of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car or pedestrian accident, call any of the 13 Bronson Jones locations in the Lower Mainland for our expertise and advice. All of our cases are handled on a contingency (percentage) basis and you don’t pay until we collect.