If you’ve been in an automobile accident, third-party witness statements are critical. These independent and unbiased testimonies can provide strong evidence of who was at fault as their opinions are not influenced by the financial or personal outcome of the accident.
This is especially important in a personal injury claim as you will need sufficient evidence as to how your injuries were caused by the negligent acts of the other party. Collecting information from witnesses following an accident is a critical component of proving such a case, but if this information is not collected in the proper way it may be inadmissible in court.
Here’s what you need to know about collecting information and securing witness statements.
- Stay Calm and Consider the SituationAutomobile accidents are chaotic and stressful. As a victim, your primary concern must be to consider your safety and seek medical attention for your injuries. In certain scenarios, even moving around could exacerbate your injuries and do more harm than good. However, by staying calm and accessing the situation you can get a better grasp of your capabilities and surroundings. If you are physically able, then take the following steps to secure witness statements.
- Locate Potential WitnessesFirst, grab a camera, (your phone’s camera will work fine) a pen, and something to write on. Check your surroundings and look for any potential eyewitnesses to the accident. This may include people who stopped to assist, nearby business workers or their customers, or even the drivers and occupants of other cars that were involved in the accident. Approach them by identifying yourself and asking if they witnessed the full account of the accident.
- Write Down the DetailsThe next step is to carefully and politely request them to describe what they saw and heard. It’s very important that you don’t argue or petition for your side of the story. Doing things like prompting a series of answers, will appear as if you are trying to manipulate the situation, which may alienate the witness and do more harm than good. You may consider having them write down in detail what they saw and heard. Anyone who witnessed the accident can write a statement on any type of paper in another format.
- Sign and Date Any StatementsWith your phone or traditional camera, take a photograph of every witness signing and dating the bottom of their statement, as well as holding the finished document. If you are using a phone camera, include the witness’ contact information as an attached note to each photograph. This will allow you to reach out to them in the future and make organizing statements easier. For witnesses who are not able or are unwilling to complete a statement immediately following the accident, request their name and contact information to request information at a later date.
If you’ve been in an accident, contact us today to learn more about getting the help you deserve.