Why Witness Statements are Important After a Car Accident
When you’re injured in an auto accident, you’re probably not thinking about how critical it is to obtain statements from individuals that witnessed the incident. You may not even know what to do after a car accident. However, that does not mean that witness statements are unimportant. When it comes time to file your personal injury claim, those witness statements could be the difference between you recovering a large sum of money and you not recovering any compensation at all.
If you or a loved one has been in a car crash, contact an attorney from Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers at (404) 939-9470 to schedule a free, initial case consultation. We can also be reached via our online form.
What is a Witness Statement?
A witness statement is a short, written summary provided by a person who personally observed your car accident. It is vital that the witness has first-hand knowledge and is not relying upon someone else’s recollection. If the witness statement relies upon hearsay, that statement typically cannot be used at trial.
There are several important details that you’ll want to capture in a witness statement:
- Where the witness was located when the accident occurred
- Where the witness was going, and where they were coming from
- Whether the witness had a clear view of the scene
No Detail is Too Small
The difference is in the details when it comes to witness statements after a car accident. Questions you’ll want to ask include:
- Where were you when you saw the accident?
- What were the weather conditions like?
- What color was the traffic light that was facing me when the collision occurred?
- Were the other drivers wearing their seat belts?
- Did you hear any tires screeching prior to impact?
- Did you call 911?
Insurance adjusters, car accident lawyers, and ultimately, a jury will rely upon these statements to determine what happened and who was responsible for causing the collision. You should always assume that the other driver will blame you. When you understand that, you can appreciate how important it is to get a statement from an independent witness that says you did nothing wrong.
How Do You Find Witnesses?
Pedestrians and people passing by on foot are usually competent witnesses. Other drivers on the roadway can also be good resources if they had a clear view of the collision. There are also a few less obvious places to look for witnesses. Car accidents that occur during the day are often observed by road, construction, or utility workers. Because of their close proximity, these workers often have a good view of the scene. Another place to look for witnesses is in the 911 audio or the CAD report. If the witness called 911, the operator will typically record their full name and phone number so that you can reach out to the witness even if they didn’t stop to be interviewed by the responding police officer.
If you’re feeling well enough, go back to the scene where your crash occurred, and look closely at any shops or businesses in the vicinity of the crash. An employee may have witnessed the crash. Or, the collision may have been captured on a nearby store’s surveillance camera.
When Do You Take the Statement?
While it is helpful to get witness statements as soon as possible after a collision, they don’t have to be recorded immediately. Getting statements can be tricky, especially if you or anyone riding with you was injured. After a car accident, your first priority should be to seek medical attention.
If you are not seriously injured and you are safely able to do so, get the names and contact information of every witness present at the scene. When you follow up, ask the witnesses to provide a written statement explaining what they saw. Remember to explain to them how important it is for them to recall exactly what they saw – not what they think happened or who they think is at fault. A skilled car accident lawyer can determine if and how the statement could impact your case.
You Have the Statements. Now What?
Litigating any type of lawsuit can be challenging, especially if it involves damage to personal property or injuries. That’s why it’s critical to have an experienced lawyer that represents you after you’ve been injured in a car accident. Once you’ve recorded your own recollection of the events leading up to, during, and after your incident and you’ve secured witness statements of people who saw the crash take place, contact a personal injury lawyer from Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers for a thorough case evaluation.
For a free, initial evaluation of your case, contact us today at (404) 939-9470.