Can I still win my case if my memory of the accident now conflicts with things I might have said at the time of the accident?
This article is by Steve Raiser, an NYC personal injury lawyer. Most people who are involved in car accidents often say things that are inaccurate, especially if they have sustained injuries and due to the lengthy negotiations with the insurance adjusters. However, for your claims to be successful, you should avoid as much as possible to create discrepancies. To avoid such mistakes, ensure that you write down everything about the accident as soon as possible after the crash. You can refer to that document later.
If you have a conflicting memory of what happened during the crash, your attorney can help you. There are four major things that can prove fault in a car accident and they include:
- Physical evidence
- Credibility of each driver
- Police report
- Neutral statements by witnesses
Physical evidence means hard evidence and not testimony. The necessary physical evidence should include that of the vehicles involved in the accident and the crash scene. Hard evidence is evaluated in trial by using photographs, and these pictures are worth more than testimonies.
If the evidence you or your attorney present in court indicates that the other driver is at fault, their story won’t matter, and the jury will highly consider your testimony. In general, when the evidence presented favors the plaintiff, the defense attorney has to settle the case to favor the plaintiff. However, if the evidence favors the other driver, your attorney will advise you to take a modest settlement to end the case.
Take Images Immediately After the Accident
If you can, ensure that you take clear pictures as soon as possible after the crash. You can use your phone or camera to take images of the accident scene and both cars from different angles. Consider also walking down the street from which the other driver came from and take images of the stop sign, intersection, and skid marks on the tarmac. Take a picture of the other vehicle’s debris if there are any. In case you had any passengers, take their images standing at the points of the collision.
If you are unable to take pictures after the accident, you can request witnesses to take pictures of your car and the intersection, and also before you get your vehicle repaired.
Credibility of Each Driver
Credibility also means trustworthiness. In case the other driver that caused the car crash says that you were at fault, but they aren’t credible, the jury won’t believe them. Some of the key factors that often affect the jury’s verdict about credibility include:
- If the other driver has a criminal record
- The driver’s attitude and demeanor
- If the version of the other driver on the events of the accident are plausible
- If the other person seems to be lying
Almost all states around the country require that the police be involved in car accidents that cause property damage or bodily injuries that may exceed $400 or $1,000. However, in case your vehicle gets damaged, or you suffer bodily injuries where you believe that it was the fault of the other driver, ensure that you get it in record as soon as possible by contacting the police and informing them on what happened. Even if you had said something different, the police will have assessed the accident scene and recorded the events of the crash.
Remember, police officers can go both ways as official and neutral witnesses, and jurors often tend to believe their statements. Therefore, whatever the police write about you and the other driver is most likely what the jury will believe. This means that you should try and explain everything that happened carefully and clearly to the police so that they can preserve it in their report.
Neutral Statements by Witnesses
In almost all car accidents, the jury considers both parties (plaintiff and defendant) as biased witnesses because they are aiming to prove each other faulty. However, neutral witnesses don’t have anything at stake in your case, and they can be very helpful during a trial. Juries often believe testimonies provided by neutral witnesses, but only if they are credible. Therefore, it is always advisable to try and document the names, contact numbers, and addresses of anyone who you may think has witnessed the accident, or who might have noticed the other driver’s actions that eventually led to the accident.
In case the other driver gives a testimony in court stating that you were at fault, but three or more neutral witnesses testify that the accident was caused by the other driver and happened as you now recall, and not the way the other driver has testified, then you stand a high chance to win the case and get a fair compensation.