There is no harm in approaching people who witnessed your car accident and asking for their contact information. Still, the most valuable evidence will come from people who were in the car without you and those who treated you for your injuries.
Assuming that you can even get to the witnesses safely and that you have the courage to put them on the spot and ask them to provide witness testimony, there are easier ways to support your claim, ways that do not require you to make big requests of strangers. The car accident lawyers at BDIW Law can help you gather the evidence you need to build a strong case.
Not Everyone Is Willing to Serve as a Witness
How would you feel if someone you had first met only seconds earlier asked you to take sides in a dispute that did not directly involve you and in which large amounts of money, and perhaps even criminal charges, were at stake? You would probably feel apprehensive.
When nearby pedestrians or drivers witness a car accident, the law allows you to approach them about giving a witness statement that can support your insurance claim stemming from the accident; if you later file a car accident lawsuit to recover damages for your medical expenses, witnesses’ statements can serve as evidence.
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The Perils of Approaching Strangers for Witness Statements
When you get out of the car after an accident, you notice people standing next to their car in a nearby parking lot, and you are almost sure that they saw what happened. Should you go and talk to them to ask for their contact information in hopes of getting a witness statement?
The answer is, it depends. Can you walk to the witnesses without making your injuries worse? Does the other driver want to approach them, too? (That would be an awkward situation, even for people who thrive on conflict.) Were they paying enough attention to see whose fault the accident was, or were they focused on their conversation or their smartphones?
There are no guarantees that the bystanders could provide useful testimony, and getting the testimony from them requires effort and courage.
The Best Evidence Was with You All Along
The people who are in the best position to offer witness testimony are the ones who were closest to you during and immediately after the accident. If a passenger was with you in the car, ask them to give a witness statement; you already know and trust the person enough to ride in the car together.
Likewise, if a bystander came to assist you after the accident, they are probably willing to give you their contact information, and you can ask them for a statement after you have received medical attention for your acute injuries. In addition, first responders who arrive after the accident will write reports, as will the doctor who treats you in the emergency room, and these reports can provide strong evidence.
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What You Should Do After an Accident
After a car accident occurs, if it is safe for you to do so, step away from the danger and make sure you are okay physically. Call 911. Then, assess the situation. Consider the following tips:
- If you see a witness, motion to them. If they seem receptive, approach.
- Ask the witness what they saw. Even if it does not seem like they saw much, ask if it is okay if you take their phone number and name so the police can call them if they have questions.
- If they are willing to do so, ask them to record a statement on your phone. This can help to prove your case later if that person is not available to help you at a later time.
- Do not tell the witness you want to make the other party pay or that you plan to sue them. The key here is to simply ask for support in case you need it.
- If the individual is reluctant to provide any information to you, ask them to stay long enough to speak to the police officers that arrive on the scene.
Some people simply do not want to get involved. They may have their own opinion of what occurred. Other times, they may have legal concerns.
The key here is to recognize that if someone is willing to help, that is great. Yet, you want to keep them feeling positive about working with you, not intimidated in any way.
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What Other Evidence May Be Available to You?
While witnesses are an important resource after a car accident, especially if there is any question about what happened, there are other forms of evidence available that your personal injury attorney can help you secure. Consider the following:
- Use your phone to capture a video of the scene. Later, this could provide insight into who may have seen what occurred.
- Find out if area commercial buildings or homes have security cameras on them that may have recorded what happened. Let the police or your attorney seek these out when possible.
- Those who come to help you right after the accident may not have seen what happened, but they were first on the scene. That could offer some insight later on what occurred.
A key component of the work your personal injury attorney will do is to seek out available evidence in your case. Your attorney may be able to persuade a witness to speak on your behalf or provide a non-biased statement. They may be able to use witness statements and accident recreation to help shed more light on what occurred as well.
In most situations, it is best to gather any information that the witness is willing to provide to you without pressuring them. Even just their name and phone number are enough to help move your case forward. Avoid pressuring them or demanding information.
Contact BDIW Law About Witness Statements in Car Accident Cases
A car accident lawyer can help you decide which witness statements you need to build your case and can help you obtain them. Contact BDIW Law in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about your car accident case and to schedule a free consultation.
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