Car accidents frequently result in chaotic scenes that may make it difficult to think clearly about what steps you should take. Medical concerns, ensuring passengers are safe, and arguments with other parties can understandably take up all your attention. However, if you plan to file a legal claim stemming from the accident, it may be beneficial to speak to witnesses of the accident and collect their contact information. Not all witnesses used in a personal injury lawsuit are those who saw the accident, but bystander accounts are one type of witness statement that can be useful when building a case.
Several types of witness statements may be required for a successful legal claim following a car accident. A police officer’s observations of the accident scene, bystander observations of the accident, and expert testimony supporting your factual claims. The kind of expert witnesses needed depends on what you are asserting in your car accident claim.
The Tennessee personal injury attorneys at Howe Law have experience handling car accident claims and can evaluate your circumstances to determine the types of witnesses needed. Call our lawyers today for a free case review at (844) 876-4357.
Choosing What Types Of Witnesses To Use for a Car Accident Claim in Tennessee
The exact type of witnesses used in lawsuits depends on the disputed facts in the case, and our Tennessee personal injury attorneys can help determine which witnesses are needed. Some cases may have competing narratives of how the car accident happened. In those cases, several bystander witnesses may be required to establish the facts. Since car accidents typically involve police officers, those officers frequently serve as witnesses to describe facts they observed at the scene of the accident.
Other cases may have no dispute over the details of the accident. Instead, the defendant argues that your injuries were not caused by the accident. In such a case, a physician can serve as a medical expert to support injury claims. Many experts can serve as witnesses, and our Nashville personal injury attorneys can determine which experts are necessary in your case.
Police Officers as Witnesses in Tennessee Car Accident Claims
After a car accident, some of the first people arriving at the scene are local police officers. These officers can confirm how the cars were physically positioned, see the observable medical state of the drivers, and confirm the weather, road, and traffic conditions, among other details. These observations can serve as key evidence in a car accident claim to support assertions of how the accident occurred or who was at fault.
For example, suppose a victim is claiming there was ice on the road that caused an accident. In that case, the police officer’s testimony that he saw ice on the road or drove over ice on the way to the scene will support that explanation of what caused the accident. The officer can also testify regarding the observed mental state of the parties involved. If another driver appeared drunk, our Knoxville personal injury attorneys would question the officer about their observations of that drunkenness. That testimony, combined with a report showing the driver’s blood alcohol level, will help establish that the driver was drunk and liable for the accident.
While many police officers write a report of car accidents, this report is generally inadmissible in car accident lawsuits since it is considered hearsay. Tenn. R. Evid. 803 lists exceptions to the hearsay rule, but Rule 803(8) excludes police reports from these exceptions. The reasoning behind this rule is that the police officer likely did not witness the accident, so their thoughts on what caused it are based on other witness statements or speculation. However, a police officer’s personal testimony is admissible, so officers are often called witnesses in car accident cases.
Bystander Witness Statements After a Car Accident in Tennessee
Another category of witness that may be needed in a car accident lawsuit is people who witnessed the accident. Such witnesses may include other drivers on the road, cyclists or pedestrians nearby, people who work at a nearby business and saw what happened, or people in homes or apartment buildings who saw the accident from their windows.
When the police arrive on the scene, they may interview people who saw what happened for their report on the accident. Thus, the police report can be a source for finding the names of people who can serve as witnesses. Otherwise, you will need to track down witnesses who saw the accident. If you are medically able to speak to people at the scene of the accident, you should collect their names and contact information. Alternatively, social media can be used to find witnesses. Our Clarksville personal injury attorneys can work with you to figure out how to track down bystanders who can serve as a witness.
Expert Witnesses in Tennessee Car Accident Claims
Another category of witnesses is experts who can support the facts of your case. This is a very broad category of witnesses as there is a myriad of factors involved in a car accident that may need to be supported by testimony.
In personal injury cases, medical experts are used to prove the injuries suffered and how much they have affected the victim. Additionally, if you are requesting compensation for lost wages or claiming a decreased earning capacity, professional economists or vocational experts may be used to support those claims. Other experts for car accident cases include professionals who can reconstruct an accident, engineers to speak about defective car parts, and land survey experts to discuss road conditions and potential negligent road construction. These examples are not exhaustive, and our Chattanooga personal injury attorneys can determine which experts are needed for your case.
Call Our Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers Today to Discuss Your Car Accident Claim
The Murfreesboro personal injury attorneys at Howe Law have worked on many car accident claims and can help build a strong case using appropriate witnesses. We are happy to offer a free case review at (844) 876-4357.