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Factors That Affect The Reliability Of Eyewitness Testimony In A Car Accident

Factors That Affect The Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony

The reliability of eyewitness testimony is an important factor in how and if it is used in a court case. Plaintiffs  and defense attorneys want to present accurate, honest testimony that will help their cases. This makes it imperative for witness testimony to be scrutinized by attorneys prior to being presented in court. If eyewitness testimony is found to be inaccurate, it may hurt a case more than help it.

Attorneys will pay particular attention to four factors that can influence the reliability of witness testimony as they gauge whether or not to include it in their case arguments.

Four Factors That Can Influence The Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony

  1. Stress and anxiety. Victims are not alone in experiencing stress and anxiety after a crime or accident has occurred. Witnesses can feel the same, especially if the crash is particularly violent or resonates with them for personal reasons. The more stress the witness feels, the more likely he or she is to present inaccurate testimony.
  2. Influenced memories. Our memories are influenced by our realities, society, and cultural norms. Our brains are not videotaping what we see; instead, the brain tries to make sense of what we are witnessing based on what we know and understand. This can result in “reconstructive memory”, which is not necessarily accurate to what really occurred and can hurt the reliability of eyewitness testimony.
  3. Racial disparities. Much like influenced memories, our personal beliefs and experiences can influence how we remember an incident.. Our prejudices can affect how we remember an event, whether we are cognizant of them or not.
  4. Lack of distinct characteristics. The reliability of eyewitness testimony in identifying people is made more difficult when the accused does not have any distinguishing characteristics. Tattoos, unique hair coloring or styles, extreme height, etc. can help witnesses recall and identify people. By contrast, people who do not have any distinctive characteristics are harder for witnesses to remember and identify.

Eisenberg Law Will Vet Your Eyewitness Testimony

We know that our clients’ lives, futures, and livelihoods can be on the line during a case and that eyewitness testimony can influence the outcome. Part of our process when representing clients is to carefully vet all witnesses to gauge the reliability of eyewitness testimony. We evaluate witness testimony for our client to make sure it is accurate and complete..

To learn more about the use of eyewitness testimony in your own case, contact the Eisenberg Law Offices attorneys at 608-256-8356 or at to arrange a free case consultation.