Good credibility is a key factor in every personal injury claim, but what does that really mean? When considering liability for a crash, there are a lot of factors that come into play.
To help assess liability, insurers examine the vehicle damage, accident report, crash scene photos and more. Additionally, statements about the crash are taken from both drivers and any witnesses. This is where credibility especially matters in a personal injury claim. Learn more about the credibility of the victim and witnesses in an injury case and how it can make or break a claim.
At Jay Trucks, we know the value of credibility in an injury claim. We also know how insurance companies work hard to discredit injured victims and witnesses in hopes of devaluing a claim.
If you are seeking compensation outside of your Michigan no-fault benefits claim, our personal injury lawyers in Grand Rapids are ready to help. Connect with our legal team today to set up a free case review. There is no charge for this meeting and also no pressure to hire our firm.
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What is Credibility and Why Does it Matter?
When someone is credible, people see that person as trustworthy and honest. In a legal claim, good credibility may help sway others, such as a jury, to find you and your statement believable.
How Good Credibility May Help Victims Get More Compensation
The jury is more likely to empathize with credible victims. Insurers know that once a jury sides with a victim, they may be likely to award more compensation. This situation may also motivate insurers to increase their settlement offer. They typically want to avoid the potentially higher costs of a jury-awarded verdict.
What Can Damage an Injured Victim’s Credibility?
There are several factors that can discredit a victim in an injury claim. For instance, if a victim fails to disclose a preexisting injury and and the insurance company later finds out.
Other factors that could damage a victim’s credibility may include his or her:
- Initial statement about the accident – for instance, if the story changes later on
- Bad reputation – such as being known for cheating or being dishonest
- Prior criminal activity – victims with a criminal background have less credibility
- Poor financial credit – a jury may think you are seeking money out of desperation
- Multiple traffic tickets – gives the impression you have no regard for the law
- Alcohol or other substance abuse – casts a shadow on any good character
Credible Witnesses Support and Strengthen an Injury Claim
The statement of a credible witness carries more weight and may strengthen a personal injury claim. Since the witness does not know the victim, the jury considers them a neutral third party.
That said, not everyone is a helpful or credible witness. When selecting a witness to provide a statement, it is a good idea to make sure a witness is credible. A witness who is not credible can do more harm than good to your claim.
A witness may be credible if he or she:
- Was not distracted by anything else at the time of the accident
- Has no mental limitations, such as dementia, that could affect credibility
- Is known for being honest, has good character and no criminal record
- Has no physical issues, such as having poor eyesight and not wearing glasses
- Does not have any citations or a history of driving while impaired
- Has no personal stake in the outcome of the claim, such as a friend or family member
If you hire an attorney, he or she can speak with, research and validate a witness to determine his or her credibility.
How Insurance Companies May Try to Damage Good Credibility
Insurance companies spend time searching for ways to discredit an injury victim or witness. The sole reason insurance companies do this is to devalue or even deny a claim.
Insurers examine an injury victim’s case to find ways to argue against a claim, such as whether he or she:
- Received medical care immediately after the accident or waited days or even weeks
- Followed-up with the treating physician or skipped one or more appointments
- Posted on social media and/or continued with normal activities
- Made statements early on about the accident and later changed his or her story
- Held back critical details that impact the claim, such as a preexisting condition
Insurers may also try to discredit the credibility of any witnesses by:
- Finding a mental or physical issue that diminishes their statement
- Digging up criminal records, old traffic tickets, or even one incident of petty theft
- Finding evidence that reveals a witness was too far away from the accident to have seen it
- And more
Even Expert Witnesses Could Lose Credibility
Expert witnesses have special training and skills that help them to clarify and explain hard-to-understand facts in a personal injury claim. Credible experts must be perceived as authoritative and knowledgeable, but without being condescending. Additionally, they must gain and keep the trust of the jury. If an expert is not credible with the jury, his or her testimony could harm the outcome of a claim.
Call Our Trusted Law Firm for Legal Help Today
If you need help protecting your legal interests, as well as your credibility, our firm is ready to help. We have been helping injury victims recover compensation for decades. We have a strong history of proven results, and we have recovered millions on behalf of our clients.
You can call our firm anytime, night or day, to schedule your free initial consultation. Learn more about your legal options and how we may be able to help. If we represent you, there is nothing to pay up front. We only get paid if you do.
Experienced. Local. Lawyers. 989-244-0356