Witness statements can prove invaluable in a car accident. They can help establish who caused the accident, what injuries and property damage occurred during the accident, and even what additional factors may have contributed to the accident. Did you witness a car accident? Follow these steps to put together a clear, comprehensive witness statement.
1. The Basics
As you put together your witness statement, make sure you start with the basics. You need to establish who you are and make it simple to connect back with you, if the police, an insurance company, or an attorney needs to follow up with you after the accident. Include:
- Your name
- Your phone number
- Your address
- Any other contact information (like an email address) requested by the police or attorney
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2. The Initial Details of the Accident
In order to connect your witness statement back to the specific car accident, you need to include the relevant details of the accident. Some of those will be things that you learn after the accident itself: for example, you might not know the drivers’ names until they’re given to you by a police officer, lawyer, or insurance agent.
That information, however, is critical to connecting your statement to the accident itself. Make sure you include:
- The drivers involved in the accident
- The vehicles involved in the accident, including make, model, and license plate numbers, if you have that information
- The time and date of the accident
- The location of the accident. You can use nearby streets to establish a near location if needed. The police report may contain details about where, exactly, the accident occurred.
3. What You Witnessed, Including Your Perspective Regarding the Cause of the Accident
Once you’ve established the basic who, what, when, and where of the accident, it’s time to establish your perspective on the “why.” As a witness, you may have had a clearer view of the actions of all drivers involved in the accident than the people in the vehicles. The “why” of the accident is one of the most critical parts of the witness statement.
By explaining what you saw, you can help establish liability or offer evidence that supports the victim’s personal injury claim. Make sure that your statement puts together the information clearly.
Put Together Your Statement As Soon After the Accident As Possible
You want your witness statement to be as accurate as possible. Everyone who witnesses a car accident may have a slightly different perspective, so you don’t have to worry about whether your statement will line up perfectly with the one given by other drivers. However, you do want to ensure that you record what led to the accident as accurately as possible.
The memory of an event can fade quickly, especially after a traumatic event. If you saw a very serious accident, especially one that resulted in severe injury, your memory may fade faster. Make sure you record your statement as soon as possible to help avoid that memory blurring.
Try Not to Listen to Other Witnesses’ Accounts Before Putting Together Your Own Statement
Other witnesses’ accounts can inadvertently manipulate your own memories of the accident. Before you know it, you can be convinced that you saw something that you didn’t, or that you missed a specific element of the accident. Put together your witness statement without listening to what other witnesses have to say about the accident.
Include What You Saw Without Conjecture
Sometimes, it’s very tempting to comment on what you think caused the accident. While it’s all right to use examples or suggest a possible cause, you shouldn’t include things you don’t know about or didn’t see.
For example, if you witness a rear-end collision at an intersection, you might wonder if the rear driver was distracted, which caused him to fail to stop in time. Unless you saw him with his cell phone out before the collision occurred, however, you should not include speculation about his distraction in the witness statement.
On the other hand, if you clearly saw the liable driver with his phone out, you might want to include that information in your report. Likewise, if you noticed another problem that could have contributed to the accident, like poor visibility or a speeding driver, you might want to mention those elements as you put together your statement.
Add All the Details You Can Remember
While you should not guess at possible accident causes, you may want to include as much information as you can remember about the accident. You never know what piece of your testimony could help the victims of that accident.
4. Note the Injuries and Property Damage that You, Personally, Witnessed
Do not make guesses about the victims’ injuries, especially if you did not have direct contact with the victim or you are not a medical professional. However, if you observed clear signs of injury, you may want to include that information as part of your witness statement.
Likewise, while there are probably photos from the accident scene, you may want to note what specific property damage you observed. Those details may help the victim recover much-needed compensation after the accident–and in some cases, it can even help prevent insurance fraud.
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5. Add in Details You May Remember About the Day or Accident
Put in details about weather conditions, the road, or the location of the crash that could help the insurance company and attorneys develop a better understanding of exactly what led to the accident.
Once you have put together all the information you can remember from the accident, sign the statement before submitting it to the attorneys, police, or insurance agents involved in the collision. Your statement can then be used as evidence in the accident.
Contact Pacific West Injury Law Today for Help with Your Claim
Need to know more about how to put together a witness statement? Contact Pacific West Injury Law today.