Lawyers for both parties involved in a car accident claim will ask various types of questions, and these inquiries typically are distinct from the types of questions that a police officer or an insurance agent might ask. Ultimately, the lawyer is seeking information that can help to show either that his or her client is entitled to receive financial compensation (if the client is the plaintiff who is seeking compensation from a negligent party) or that his or her client is not responsible for the accident (if the client is the defendant in a car accident claim, or the party against whom someone else is seeking compensation).
If the car accident witness was not involved in the crash, she or he should anticipate being questioned by a Las Vegas car accident attorney who has been hired by the plaintiff, as well as a local attorney who has been retained by the defendant. If you witnessed an accident, you should anticipate some of the following types of questions.
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Typically, regardless of who is asking the questions, the first question a car accident witness will get concerns how the witness remembers the accident. From a lawyer’s perspective, asking the witness this question gives the witness a chance to provide his or her own narrative of how the crash occurred, and it also opens up the possibility that the witness will provide information that the lawyer would not initially have asked about.
Asking a witness to describe the crash in his or her own words also allows the lawyer to determine whether there are discrepancies between any information that the witness might have provided at the scene, as well as discrepancies between the witness’s account and the accounts of other witnesses or parties involved in the crash.
Learning what the witness believes caused the accident can help a lawyer to prove causation. For example, the car accident witness might say that she saw Driver X run a red light, and then witnessed the crash as it happened. Or, for instance, the witness might recall that the visibility was quite bad at the time of the accident, and as such she heard the sound of the collision before she actually saw what happened. Any of this information can help a lawyer to prove fault in the client’s favor, or to disprove fault if another party alleges that the client’s negligence caused the collision.
It will be important for a car accident attorney to determine whether a witness is reliable, especially if there is a need for the witness to provide testimony in a civil trial. For instance, a law enforcement official might have more experience noting details of an accident than, for example, a school teacher. Or, for example, a commercial truck driver might have more experience understanding how crashes happen than, for instance, a restaurant server who relies on public transportation.
This question also can go to the witness’s reliability. For example, if the witness was at the scene because she or he had just exited a restaurant or bar after consuming several alcoholic drinks, the witness’s statement or testimony may be less reliable than the information provided by another witness.
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