The North Carolina Car Accident Memory Problem

July 24, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina car accident victims often make an enormous mistake that can have profound consequences for their capacity to collect recovery for damages, like time off of work, surgical and rehabilitation bills, and on and on.

That mistake is simple. We believe that we will “remember” what happened to us accurately and vividly.

But the human memory is obviously and notoriously malleable. The brain can’t possibly store every single “bit” of information you take in through your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and other sensory organs. The brain compresses all of that information and uses simple heuristics – tried and true neural pathways in the brain – to “give you the gist” and filter out unimportant stuff.

This is generally a useful strategy. But it can really hamper your North Carolina car accident case if you let it “run amuck” and don’t try to tame the process. Your memories, perceptions, points of view, and future perspective can all influence, shape, distort, and wear down your memories. And this is a problem because the less accurately – objectively speaking – you can recall what happened in your car accident, the more difficult it will be for a North Carolina car accident law firm to win your case.

You need good, quantifiable, objective information – police reports, witness statements taken right after the crash, a photo of the evidence, medical records, etc. Your “version” of events may be closest to accurate immediately after the crash — although not even necessarily do! And after that, it might easily degrade in the minutes, hours, days, and weeks after the accident happens.

In fact, when you think about what happened, you are not actually recalling the situation itself – you are recalling a memory of thinking about that situation. It’s like a hall of mirrors — a copy of a copy of a copy.

The courts recognize this problem, too. That’s why verifying witness statements is incredibly useful. When your case devolves into a “he said, she said” type argument, you are going to run into more serious problems. If, on the other hand, you can objectively point to evidence, you’ll have the legal ammunition to go much farther: “here is a picture of exactly what my car look like after the trucker defendant in question drove me off the road. See the tread marks? See my broken windshield?” That kind of more objective evidence is far more compelling – to judges, juries, and anyone – than testimony recalled days, weeks, or months after the fact.

More Web Resources:

Memory is porous

are witness statements reliable?


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