Importance of Independent Witness Evidence

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It may not be the first thing on your mind after you have been involved in a road traffic accident which was not your fault but, if you are not seriously injured and are physically able, take the time to speak to nearby pedestrians or other road users who may have witnessed the accident.

The evidence of a passenger in your vehicle or a friend or acquaintance is not considered as “independent” witness evidence.  It is therefore very important that you talk to people nearby who could provide an unbiased account of the accident and find out exactly what they saw.

Ask witnesses if they are willing to provide you with their name and contact details.  If you do not obtain their details at this stage there is unlikely to be another opportunity for you to do so and their evidence could prove to be vital in determining whether you are compensated for your injuries and losses.

After you have provided these details to your insurance company and the personal injury solicitors instructed to pursue your claim, take the time to contact your witnesses just to let them know that they should expect a phone call.

In order for your solicitors to assess how likely your claim is to succeed, they will speak to your witnesses to assess their evidence and the impact this could have on your claim.  If you have independent witness evidence which supports your version of events this could be the key to achieving an early admission of liability and ultimately assist the settlement of your claim.

If legal action does become necessary, the co-operation of your witnesses will become even more important.  Your solicitors will need to prepare a formal witness statement on their behalf and, if resolution cannot be achieved, they may be asked to attend the trial of your claim.  Witness evidence can be a determining factor for the Court in a claim for personal injury where conflicting circumstances have been provided by the Claimant and Defendant.

Taking the time to speak to potential witnesses, obtain their details and gain their co-operation could be the difference between an early resolution and a lengthy dispute.

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Article written by Laura Gough, Solicitor for the Road Traffic Accident Department at Michael Lewin Solicitors.

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