Witnesses are an extremely important source of evidence and information in car accident claims. A strong case can be built on witness statements even where other evidence is lacking.
The kinds of witness statements you might need for your case largely depend on how your accident occurred and who was in the area. If other people saw the accident unfold before them, they might make good eyewitnesses. Expert witnesses might be necessary if your case is particularly complex, and some specialized knowledge can help clarify the issue. Other witnesses might not be experts or have seen the accident happen, but they might have other valuable first-hand knowledge. For a witness to testify, their statements must be admissible. An attorney can help you determine if a witness’ statements are admissible or inadmissible hearsay.
Various people might testify as witnesses for your car accident claim, and the witness statements you need varies based on your case. Contact our Mississippi car accident lawyers for a free case review to begin your claims today. Call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 for assistance.
Witness Statements You Might Need for a Car Accident Claim in Mississippi
Not all witnesses are the same, but all witnesses should have some personal knowledge relevant to your car accident claims. Knowing what kind of witnesses to look for is a great place to begin your case.
In a car accident case, an eyewitness is someone who saw the accident as it happened. These witnesses are valuable to your claims because they might have seen the other vehicle crash into you and can testify about the defendant’s negligence they personally observed.
Eyewitnesses are sometimes hard to come by, as many witnesses do not stick around or do not come forward on their own. We might rely on the police report regarding your accident to find eyewitnesses since the police might have spoken with them at the scene.
Some examples of good eyewitnesses in car accident cases include other drivers or passengers who were not involved in the accident but were nearby when it happened. Passersby and pedestrians might also be able to testify as eyewitnesses. The more these people saw and the clearer their memories are, the stronger their statements will be.
Car accidents can be incredibly complicated, especially when multiple vehicles and drivers are involved. Depending on the situation, you might need an expert witness to testify about how the accident happened to clarify the issue. Experts do not necessarily have to witness the accident to testify about it, making them a unique exception to the rule requiring first-hand knowledge.
Accident reconstruction experts are commonly called in for car accident claims. These experts use their specialized skills and knowledge about car accidents to determine how your accident happened. They often rely on written reports and other evidence about the accident to reach their findings.
A person does not necessarily have to have seen the accident themselves or have specialized knowledge useful to their case to testify as a witness. One example of a non-eyewitness with first-hand knowledge often comes up in alcohol-related car accidents. If the driver who hit you was drinking at a bar before the accident, someone from the bar who saw the other driver drinking heavily could testify as a witness. Their testimony would not pertain directly to the accident but to the other driver’s drinking. Our Biloxi car accident lawyers can help you find these people and determine if their statements can help you.
Who Can Testify as a Witness in a Car Accident Claim in Mississippi?
Although numerous individuals might have information about your accident, not all are qualified to give witness statements or testimony. There are rules of evidence that must be adhered to for witness statements to be admissible. Our Jackson car accident attorneys can make sure the witnesses in your case meet these rules and standards.
To testify as a witness, a person must be competent under the Mississippi Rules of Evidence § 601. The rule holds that everyone is competent to testify unless specific conditions are present.
One such condition is marriage. A spouse is not competent to testify in a case where the other spouse is a party unless both spouses consent. However, the spouse who is a party to the case can call their spouse as a witness in their favor. Also, the rule does not apply when the case involves a controversy between the spouses themselves. Additionally, the rule does not apply in certain criminal cases, often involving issues of abuse, children, and other family matters.
The rule regarding competency does not address issues of mental competency. This means that someone with mental or psychological disabilities or disorders can testify. However, these conditions might be used by the opposing party to impeach them, and jurors might not trust their testimony.
The Need for Personal Knowledge
One of the most important rules regarding witnesses is that they must have personal knowledge of whatever they are testifying about, according to the Mississippi Rules of Evidence § 602. Witnesses must have observed for themselves the information in their testimony. In car accident cases, this usually means the witness must have been at the scene or witnessed something leading up to the accident. Information heard from someone who heard it from someone else is not personal knowledge and cannot be used as witness testimony.
Who is an Expert?
Expert witnesses are unique in that they do not necessarily need first-hand knowledge to testify. Instead, according to the Mississippi Rules of Evidence § 702, an expert witness is qualified to testify by virtue of special knowledge or skills. For example, a car accident reconstruction expert can apply their scientific and specialized knowledge to the evidence from the crash to recreate the accident scene.
Experts can also offer opinions, unlike most lay witnesses. However, their opinion must be based on facts and evidence from the accident and determined using their expert knowledge and skills. An expert’s opinion may embrace the ultimate issue of the case, including the defendant’s negligence and liability.
Contact Our Mississippi Car Accident Lawyers for Help
Often, strong cases are built around a variety of witnesses who can testify about various facets of the crash. Our Mississippi personal injury lawyers can help you find the witnesses you need. For a free case review, call Howe Law at (844) 876-4357.