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Overcoming the Lies of an At-Fault Driver

Lies and deception are a reckless approach to getting out of liability for an accident, but that doesn’t stop some defendants from telling falsehoods. This can be especially problematic when the plaintiff and defendant are the only witnesses to the accident: there are no passengers, other drivers, or other bystanders who can shed light on the events leading up to the crash. When a defendant lies, the injured plaintiff can explore several options to establish the truth. The first is to obtain third party data. Auto accidents tend to generate a ton of information. Most contemporary cars have “brains” that can be accessed to gather data about virtually every system in the car. In an accident involving serious injury, police investigators may generate reports. In some cases it can make sense to investigate the defendant’s activities in the time leading up to the crash. Such information could come from deposing the defendant, or might be obtained from things like the defendant’s cell phone data. Another important approach is to examine the defendant’s own words. Lying consistently is very difficult to do. Many people who lie leave a trail of contradictory statements that can be used to refute their falsehoods. This is especially true of a defendant who has discussed the accident on social media or in other electronic forms, like email, which can be entered into evidence. The defendant may have made contradictory statements to others that could be brought in as evidence as well. A defendant who is “caught” in a lie in the course of litigation can face a number of consequences. If the defendant was testifying under oath, whether in a courtroom setting or in a deposition, the lie may be grounds for a criminal charge of perjury, a felony under Nevada law with penalties including up to four years in prison and a fine. In some cases the defendant’s attorneys may also be taken to task by the court for not taking steps to address their client’s deception. A good civil defense attorney wouldn’t allow his or her client to lie in court not just because of the serious criminal penalties that could result, but because it risks undermining the defendant’s case. For the personal injury plaintiff, proving that the defendant lied also calls into question the defendant’s other statements to the court. It puts the plaintiff in a significantly stronger position, because the credibility of the defendant as a witness has been seriously damaged. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases for over four decades. We work closely with each client to find the best path to a successful outcome. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

I Don’t Recall: Handling an Imperfect Memory in Litigation

The fallibility of memory has far-reaching influence on how the legal system works. It is one of the important justifications for statutes of limitation, which limit the amount of time someone has to file a lawsuit. It shapes rules governing how evidence is gathered and used. And it plays a significant role in shaping the burdens each party to litigation must bear as they work to establish the facts of the case. Memory is almost always an issue in litigation. Oral testimony about events necessarily requires witnesses to remember events that happened months or even years before. Mistaken impressions can render a particular memory unreliable. For example, it’s easy to not see every detail of the roadway even in normal driving conditions, but someone who has been in an accident may be sure about important details that in fact were quite different than what memory retained: a light that she remembers being red was actually green, and so on. But intervening events can also shape memory. People telling their stories about events may embellish facts, and in time those embellishments could become part of the memory itself. People will also protect themselves from painful memories by unconsciously forgetting or changing details. Everyone has a different aptitude for remembering things. At one end of the spectrum are people with the rare gift of remembering tiny details many years later. At the other end of the spectrum are people suffering from brain injury or disease, who might not be able to remember what happened to them just a short time earlier. Most people fall in the middle: they’re able to remember important facts, but they might not recall the small details that are critically important to the case. Because memory is so complicated and diverse, attorneys use a number of strategies to verify information, including these:
  • Giving witnesses access to records. If it’s helpful to a witness, lawyers can provide them with documents that are already in evidence, such as letters, notes, emails, and so on, to give them a reference that might help them remember important details. This process always requires care, because showing a witness a record can alter the witness’s memory. The adversarial context of litigation serves to limit the potential for distortion.
  • Finding corroborating evidence. If oral testimony raises inconsistencies it can be helpful to examine other sources of information to compare with what witnesses have said. As they say, a photograph is worth a thousand words.
  • Examining the witness. In some cases, especially those where the most important evidence is oral testimony, the witness may be asked many questions that are designed to test the witness’s overall reliability. Ultimately the power of oral testimony is determined by how reliable it appears to be. Attorneys may try to undermine the value of a given witness by demonstrating that the witness’s memory is highly faulty.
For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in cases involving personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other controversies. Our attorneys work with clients to determine how memory may play a role in their case, so that solutions can be found to potential challenges before they become problems. To learn how we can be of help in your case, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.