Most people know to get the other driver’s contact information after a car accident, but fewer people get contact information for nearby witnesses. Lacking witnesses can put you at a disadvantage if you need to seek damages from the other driver, particularly in the no-fault state of New York.
Whether you’re seeking compensation after an accident or need to prove you didn’t cause a crash, a witness to the car accident can significantly influence your case. Learn the importance of a witness statement after a car accident and how an attorney from Catalano Law can use witness statements to support your claim.
New York is a no-fault state, meaning that if you get into an accident, both drivers’ insurance policies will cover subsequent expenses regardless of who caused the accident. However, no-fault insurance does not reimburse all your accident-related costs. For example, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance doesn’t cover long-lasting, chronic pain, property damage, or emotional distress.
A reliable witness statement can support your claim with an insurer or weigh the case in your favor in court for the following reasons:
- Witnesses Can Verify Your Testimony
If the only people providing testimony were involved in the car accident, it’s your word against theirs, so it’s easy for someone to lie or deny a statement. An impartial witness can share what they saw or heard to support your testimony.
For example, if the other driver said “I’m so sorry I hit you” after the incident, your lawyer may use the statement as evidence that they caused the accident. Without a witness, the other driver may deny they said it. A witness who overheard the statement can confirm that the other driver apologized for hitting you.
- Your Memories Can Be Unclear or Incorrect
When you’re involved in a car crash, your memories of the accident may not be entirely accurate. A 2015 article in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that memories often become distorted after traumatic events such as car accidents. After a traumatic crash, you might not remember some or all of the events correctly.
While it’s stressful to witness a car crash, it’s not as stressful as being in a car crash. A witness will likely have a more accurate recollection of the events with fewer missing details or false memories.
- Witnesses Have No Ulterior Motive
From an insurance company or judge’s perspective, you and the other driver may have reason to lie regarding the accident. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line in many accident cases, so each side is acting in its own best interest.
On the other hand, witnesses have little reason to lie since they aren’t receiving or paying compensation. Chances are, they don’t know you or the other driver, so they don’t have a reason to embellish the story or defend one of you.
While their report won’t be completely unbiased, they can paint a more accurate picture of the accident. Using unbiased witnesses is a valuable negotiation technique your lawyer can use to win you a higher settlement.
- A Witness Can Provide Information You Missed
You don’t always have the chance to take in your surroundings during and after a car accident. A witness may see the collision the moment it happens, allowing them to give details you couldn’t see as someone involved in it.
For example, if you’re checking your blind spots or the other driver hits you at an angle, you may not see that the driver is on their phone. However, a witness stopped at an intersecting road might see the driver texting shortly before they hit you. They may also have seen the other driver speeding just before running a stop sign or witnessed them drinking at a bar shortly before getting behind the wheel.
It’s crucial to get a witness statement as soon as possible. While you should always prioritize your health and safety, a 2021 research study found that witnesses asked to recount the event within 24 hours tend to remember it better. The longer you wait to obtain a statement, the less accurate their information could be.
In a no-fault state like New York, it can be difficult to argue that somebody should be held liable for your injuries. At Catalano Law, our Syracuse car accident lawyers are happy to provide a free initial consultation and review the facts of your case. We can use evidence such as witness testimony to help you receive fair compensation and rebuild your life.
Contact Catalano Law for a free consultation today so we can start building your case.