At the scene of a car accident, it is not uncommon for those who have witnessed the collision to rush over to make sure everyone is okay. Witnesses can call for law enforcement and an ambulance too, especially if they notice both drivers are in a great deal of pain or are stuck within their vehicle. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, a witness may not always be helpful when it comes to your civil lawsuit against the driver at-fault. In this article, we have answered questions people may have about the witnesses who have watched the crash unfold.
When should I ask the witness for their name & contact?
The number one priority after a car crash is to get yourself checked out for any serious injuries. Your health should come first, so do not focus on getting witness information if you are severely bleeding, feel dizzy as if you’re going to faint, or are in substantial pain. Do not put yourself at risk simply for the chance of obtaining a useful witness. But, if you feel decent and the witness is nearby or helping you, ask right away before they have a chance to leave the area.
Is it possible for a witness to actually hurt my case?
If a witness does not side with your perspective of the accident, then he or she is likely to hurt rather than help your case. When at the scene, there is no need to gather a full witness statement at that time. The environment is likely to be very stressful and tense, so only ask for their name and best way to get in touch. Your attorney can then reach out at a later time to ask questions about the accident.
Should I get statements from those who were in my car during the crash too?
The more people you have to support your side of the story, the better. Friends, family and/or your significant other who was riding with you at the time of the accident can have a positive influence on your case. However, a statement from a bystander in support of your innocence can weigh even heavier in your favor, as this person has no prior relationship with you.
What series of questions may my attorney ask from the witness?
Once your personal injury attorney gets in contact with a witness, there are likely to be a series of questions asked. If the witness is a convicted felon, has poor sight or hearing, or seems to change their story constantly, then this may not be the best witness to bring forward. Examples of questions your attorney may ask can include:
- Who do you think was the driver responsible for the collision?
- At which angle did you see the crash happen? (from inside a car, from a shop window, sidewalk, etc.)
- When did you first notice the accident? (right before, during or after hearing the sound of impact)
- From what you could tell, was either driver operating the vehicle in a careless or unlawful manner?