The moments following an injury auto accident are stressful, and the last thing you’re likely thinking about in those moments is a potential accident injury claim. However, the steps you take in the aftermath of a crash can impact your potential injury claim and, therefore, significantly impact your future. One important step is identifying any eyewitnesses and getting their contact information before they leave the scene.
But approaching strangers who might have seen something important can be intimidating or awkward for you. You might be unsure how to proceed. You’re not alone if you are wondering, How do I approach an eyewitness after an auto accident?
Who Can Be Potential Witnesses To An Accident?
An eyewitness is someone who saw the accident occur. You might benefit from their testimony to prove liability against the other driver. Potential witnesses could include:
- Another driver nearby,
- A passenger in another vehicle,
- A pedestrian walking down the street,
- Someone shopping or working in a store or restaurant,
- People inside their homes, and
- Other people who stopped to help.
Even if they didn’t see the entire accident, they might have noticed something important. Perhaps they saw the other driver on their cell phone or turning around to the backseat, etc.
Approaching A Witness
Approaching a witness with caution and respect is generally a good idea. You want to establish a rapport with them, not alienate them or pressure them into helping you. Here are some tips for approaching a witness following a car accident.
- Identify yourself. Let the witness know who you are, your role in the collision, and why you seek their information.
- Be polite. Always treat a witness with respect and kindness.
- Explain the importance of their observations. Try to convey how important their testimony is without sounding desperate. Let witnesses know their information could be essential in helping resolve the accident.
- Get contact information. Ask each potential witness for their name, phone number, and other relevant contact information.
- Take notes if you can. Make sure to jot down witness accounts of the accident and other relevant details.
- Express gratitude. Be sure to thank any cooperative witnesses for their time and assistance.
It is important to remember that a witness might be hesitant to get involved in litigation. Some people want to avoid getting called to give a statement or testify. That is why it’s essential to be understanding and respectful of their feelings as you request their help.
Potential Questions To Consider Asking A Witness
If you can speak with a witness following a car accident, you want to ask questions that help establish what the witness saw. Here are some potential questions to ask an auto accident witness.
- Were you able to see the events leading up to the accident?
- Did you see the actual crash?
- Were you able to see all vehicles involved in the accident?
- Were you able to see the drivers?
- Did you see any passengers in any of the cars?
- Did you hear anything that could be important before or during the accident?
- Were there any traffic signals or road signs that may be relevant?
- What was the weather like?
- Did you see any other vehicles or pedestrians in the area?
- Do you have any additional information that might be relevant?
- Who do you believe is at fault?
Always remember to ask questions in a non-confrontational and respectful manner, and be sure to take notes. You want to preserve their testimony if your case goes into litigation because memories can alter over time. That is also why the statute of limitations typically only gives you two years to resolve your case.
What Happens If You’re Seriously Injured?
Speaking with a witness at the accident scene is not possible if you are incapacitated. But it is useless to worry about things you cannot control. If someone stopped and left their contact information with law enforcement, your attorney can contact the witness later.
Contact A California Car Accident Lawyer
If you need assistance following an accident, please get in touch with the California car accident lawyers at Silva Injury Law. With years of experience representing injured car accident victims, we routinely deal with witness statements and preserve testimony for litigation. In short, our team has the knowledge and experience you need to get the best results in your case. Please schedule a consultation where we can review your case and start you on the road to physical and financial recovery.
Find Out How We Can Help
At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.