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What Happens If Witnesses Give Conflicting Reports About an Accident?

Getting into an auto accident can be a stressful time in any driver’s life, especially if witnesses to the accident give conflicting reports. Conflicting statements can make determining who is at fault difficult, and steps will need to be taken to determine which reports are the most trustworthy. Having a reliable vehicle accident lawyer in Houston, TX can be an asset to your case.

The Credibility of the Witnesses Will Be Assessed

When witnesses give conflicting reports about an accident, the first step will be to determine if one witness is more credible than the others. In other words, it involves deciding which person’s account is more trustworthy or believable and therefore more likely to be true. This can be a very subjective process, and often considers what each person could have reasonably seen, their physical condition, and any potential conflicts of interest.  

Completeness of Each Account

One way to determine witness credibility is to consider where each person was located during the accident and how much they reasonably could have seen. Did they see the entire incident from beginning to end, or did they only see a portion of it? Were they distracted by their phone or something else in their immediate vicinity, which could have caused them to miss a key detail? All of this and more will be considered. 

Your lawyer may be able to raise concerns about the completeness of a witness’s account during your court case. Ideally, they’ll be able to argue that the witness’s statement could not have been accurate because they did not have the complete picture. If so, your witnesses may be viewed as more trustworthy.

Witness Physical Condition

If the credibility of the witness is in question, their physical condition may also be assessed to determine if there was anything that could have prevented them from witnessing events accurately. Does the witness have impaired vision or hearing, and if so, were they wearing the proper equipment to correct it? In other words, if they require glasses, contacts, hearing aids, or other similar devices whether or not they were wearing them at the time will be taken into consideration.

Your lawyer might request that other conditions be taken into consideration during your case, depending on the individual witness. Does the witness have a history of memory issues or are they cognitively impaired? Were they intoxicated at the time of the incident, or were they sober to give an accurate statement? Is the witness a child who may not have been able to grasp the situation?  Again, these things will be assessed to determine witness credibility.

Conflicts of Interest or Other Character Concerns 

Finally, a witness’s credibility might be questioned based on conflicts of interest they may have or other concerns with their character and honesty. If the witness has an interest in the outcome of the case, they might not be trusted as fully as an independent witness would be. This often comes up when a family member or friend of one of the parties is asked to testify on their behalf and may change their answer to try and protect their loved one.

Additionally, your vehicle accident lawyer might question whether or not the opposing witness is a generally honest person. If they have a proven history of dishonesty, or in some cases a criminal record that would indicate the same, they could be discredited as a witness. This will, of course, depend entirely on your situation and the witnesses in your case.

Physical Evidence Will Be Gathered

Even though witnesses can be unreliable from time to time, physical evidence rarely is. When witness statements conflict with the physical evidence from the accident, these statements will often be discredited and the witness’s account will be called into question. In particular, damage to the vehicles, photos, videos, and police reports from the scene are all used to either support or disprove witness statements.

Damage to the Vehicles

Physical evidence on the vehicles involved in the accident can go a long way towards proving which account is accurate. If the physical damage to the vehicles conflicts with the witness’s account, it is very unlikely that their story will be believed. This is why it is essential to avoid moving the vehicles until this evidence has been documented so that it can be used later if needed to prove your case.

Photos and Videos

Any photos or video clips you can gather on the scene are one of the strongest pieces of evidence you have that your witnesses are accurate. If safe to do so, immediately take photos of the accident yourself before moving either vehicle. Be sure to ask witnesses if they took any photos or videos as well, and ask them to send them to you, your lawyer, and show them to any police officers who respond to the scene.

Additionally, consider asking any local homes or businesses if they have security cameras that could have captured the incident. You will want to do this as soon as possible after the accident since many surveillance systems only store video footage for a short amount of time.

Police Reports

When an officer in Houston, TX arrives at the scene, they should talk to everyone involved in the accident to determine what exactly happened. This should be done separately so that they can catch whether or not each person’s stories line up with one another and who may not be telling the truth. They will try to determine who was at fault using what they learn from their initial interviews.

Once the officer has considered everything, they will typically write a report and may issue a citation to whichever driver they determined was at-fault. This citation will likely be for a traffic violation of some kind, such as speeding, failing to keep a proper distance from other vehicles, failure to obey traffic signs, and other things of the like. If you have this report stating that the other party was at fault, this can go a long way towards proving that your account is true.

Other Evidence as Needed

Depending on the situation and the statements being made, other evidence may be needed. If a witness claims, for example, that heavy rainfall was a factor in the crash then weather reports or other similar documents could be used to prove whether or not those conditions were likely at the time. Your lawyer will be able to help you determine what additional evidence could be used to support your witnesses and discredit the conflicting accounts given by others.

Consult a Vehicle Accident Lawyer in Houston, TX

It’s good practice to wait to talk to any opposing insurance companies, lawyers, or even the other party without first consulting your lawyer. Unfortunately, many drivers get themselves in a bind by doing these things themselves and may accidentally make statements or sign documents taking fault for the accident themselves. Turning over wrongful findings of fault can be a challenge to do, and it is better to just avoid the possibility altogether. 

An experienced attorney will also be able to help gather the necessary evidence to try to disprove any witnesses that are lying or not giving a complete picture of the accident situation. Their goal will be to get you the best outcome for your case, especially when you are the victim of someone else’s negligence behind the wheel.

If you’ve been in an auto accident and witnesses are giving conflicting accounts, don’t panic. Reach out to the experienced lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC to discuss how to best approach your situation and prove your case. 

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