How to Get Witness Statements After a Car Accident
Last Updated on April 8, 2020
The moments after a car accident can be disorienting. It’s difficult to process what just happened and determine what the appropriate next step should be. One of the most important things to do in the moments following a car accident is to get witness statements. This can feel like a daunting task, but it’s crucial to building your case if you end up suing the other party in the accident, or think they might try to sue you. Here are some tips for getting witness statements if you end up in a car accident.
Talk to Anyone Nearby
The first step to getting a witness statement is approaching anyone who was nearby at the time of the car accident. Many people understand the importance of witness statements after a car accident and will approach you, but if this doesn’t happen, don’t be afraid to ask those standing nearby if they would be willing to be a witness. If the answer is yes, trade contact information with them – you don’t need to get a statement right away. You should ask for their name, phone number, and email address just to make sure you can find them later. If you don’t have a way to log these details, give them your contact information and ask them to send you an email or text message as soon as possible to open up a line of communication. It’s also extremely helpful if these witnesses can stay until the police get there so they can give an official statement. Although it’s possible to give statements retroactively as well, they will be much more useful if they are given right after the accident happened and everyone’s memories are fresh.
Reach Out Online
If you are having trouble finding witnesses to your accident, try making a post on any community-related social media pages, or on community sites such as NextDoor, Reddit, or Facebook Groups. Be sure to mention where exactly the crash happened and the types of cars that were involved. You may be able to find witnesses after the fact who are willing to give a statement.
Work With Your Lawyer to Collect Statements
It’s helpful to have legal counseling when dealing with the aftermath of a car crash, whether you’re planning on suing the other party involved in the crash to collect damages, or if they are suing you. You should work together to reach out to each individual witness and get a written statement detailing exactly what they saw during the crash. You may need to contact them multiple times in order to get the full story of what happened.
Some witness statements will be more helpful than others, which is why it’s so important to work with a lawyer and get advice on which ones to use. After you’ve established contact with your witnesses and collected written statements, talk to your lawyer to determine the viability of each one. Some statements may end up being significantly more detailed and therefore more helpful in court than others. Your lawyer will help you determine how to use these statements in order to get the best possible payout from your insurance and from the other party involved in the accident.
Why Witness Statements Are Important
Witness statements are important for a number of reasons. Although it does require some work to get them, they become invaluable later on as you’re navigating the aftermath of the accident. Here’s why witness statements are so crucial to any case.
- Witnesses are usually unbiased. Of course, there are situations where a witness might be biased towards one party or another, but usually, they are just people who happened to be in the right place at the right time. A witnesses’ account can help clear up confusion among the parties involved in the car crash as to what actually happened. This makes it easier for the judge and the insurance company to come to a reasonable conclusion in terms of a settlement.
- The presence of witnesses on a court case can actually encourage the other party to settle before the case goes to trial. Before a trial, each party will enter the discovery phase, so they’ll be able to see the evidence the other party has. If you have a good witness lined up before the trial, it might deter the other party from moving forward with the case and encourage them to just settle.
- Witness statements can identify key inconsistencies in the drivers’ testimonies after an accident. When you’re the one involved in an accident, it can be very difficult to remember exactly what happened because things move quickly and there are often injuries involved. A witness has an external perspective, so they can be used to point out inconsistencies in testimony as well as important small details that may clear things up.
Witness statements are a very important part of building a strong case after a car accident. If you’re able to, you should prioritize finding witnesses after the accident that you can contact later. As the driver, you should never make a statement to the other party or to an insurance company without talking to your lawyer first – stick to just giving your required police statement. Your lawyer can help you handle your statement later on to make sure it benefits your case and you don’t accidentally take responsibility for what happened during the accident.