What Is a Credible Witness?
What is a credible witness? Cornell Law School defines a credible witness as someone who is believed to be honest and competent based on their knowledge, experience, training, and appearance of trustworthiness. If a jury or judge believes that a witness is credible and trustworthy, their credibility might afford their testimony added weight. By contrast, witnesses who are deemed untrustworthy are unlikely to help your case and could potentially harm it. This makes it important for you and your lawyers to determine how credible potential witnesses might be and whether they might help or harm your claim.
Factors that Can Impact the Credibility of a Witness
Multiple factors can affect the credibility of a witness, including the following:
- The consistency of the witness’s present and past statements about what happened
- Whether the witness heard or saw what happened
- The witness’s training and experience in the field about which they are testifying
- In the case of an expert, whether their testimony is aligned with generally accepted scientific principles
- Whether the version of events presented by a witness makes sense
- Whether the witness has any relationship with either party and could have potential biases
- If the witness’s testimony appears to be false based on their body language, eye contact, and other nonverbal communication
- The demeanor of the witness
- Whether the witness has past criminal convictions that impact their truthfulness
- Whether the witness has an interest in the outcome of the case
Why Is Credible Testimony Important?
A credible witness can offer an objective view of what occurred. Good witnesses are important since they are considered to be neutral and unbiased and can offer a perspective of what occurred without being influenced by either party or their own interests. The testimony of a credible witness can play an important role in confirming your version of events and carries added weight because of the testimony’s apparent objectivity.
Witnesses are important because they provide third-party information about what happened in the moments leading up to an accident, during, and after it. Because they are not involved, they can provide more details and a comprehensive picture of what happened.
How Insurance Companies Attack the Credibility of Witnesses
Credible witnesses don’t speculate or add extraneous details; instead, they stick to the facts of what they saw or heard. Because of the power a credible witness can have in a case, insurance companies try to discredit them to weaken the cases presented by the plaintiffs. Some of the ways that insurance companies might attack the credibility of a witness include the following:
- Impeaching a witness with conflicting statements
- Introducing a witness’s criminal conviction for offenses involving dishonesty
- Showing the witness’s vision is impaired
- Eliciting information about a witness’s memory problems
- Showing evidence that the witness has an interest in the case’s outcome or is otherwise biased
- Introducing evidence that the witness was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the incident occurred
When you want to present witness testimony, it’s important to understand that you will have to show that the witnesses are credible. Insurance companies will try to attack the credibility of your witnesses and sow doubt in the judge or jury. While a non-credible witness might testify truthfully, you must make sure that the judge or jury will believe what they have to say.
Get Help from the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave
Assessing the credibility of witnesses is important because of the impact they can have on your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave can interview witnesses and determine their credibility and whether they might help or harm your case. To learn more, schedule a free consultation by calling 417-322-2222 (Springfield) or 417-624-4258 (Joplin) or sending us a message online.