When it comes to determining who was at fault in a car accident, eyewitnesses can play an important role. Confirming the facts in a car accident case is vital for full recovery. Thus, collecting the necessary information from eyewitnesses to the accident and asking the right questions is one of the key first steps after an accident. In this article, we'll discuss eyewitnesses and how to collect their testimony should you need it to validate your version of events. In this article, we'll discuss what type of information you should collect from your witness and the kinds of questions you should ask them.
If you've been hurt in an accident due to someone's negligence, don't delay contacting a knowledgeable car accident attorney. You can schedule a free consultation with us by calling or texting (602) 345-1818. Additionally, you may fill out our convenient online form. We make it as easy as possible for you – we'll come to you, or you can schedule a virtual appointment at your convenience.
What Information Should You Collect from Witnesses?
Any onlooker of the accident may be a viable witness. Frequently there are at least some witnesses to an accident. Some examples of potential witnesses are:
- Drivers and passengers in other vehicles
- Anyone who stopped to help after the accident
- Residents that live nearby who may have seen or heard the crash
- Business owners, employees, customers, visitors in the vicinity of the accident
- Cyclists, walkers, runners, etc who may have been in the area when the accident occurred
If you find a potential witness, politely ask them if they would mind providing their contact information and a statement. When you identify a potential witness, ensure you get the following information from them:
- Their full legal name
- Their telephone number (try to get as many ways to contact them as they will give you – their home, work, and mobile phone numbers)
- Their mailing address (home and work if possible)
With the witness' permission, you may be able to get a video or audio recording of their testimony. You could also ask them if they mind writing out their statement and signing their signature with the date.
If you neglect to obtain witness information while on the scene of the accident, you may be able to find witness information and statements within the official police report.
Questions to Ask Witnesses to an Accident
The types of questions you ask witnesses after an accident are important in the grand scheme of your car accident claim. You want to get the right information from witnesses to ensure accurate information that will be valuable later on is recorded. Note that these questions don't have to be thoroughly asked at the scene if it's too chaotic to do so. With contact information collected, questions can be asked later on by you or your car accident attorney in Phoenix.
1. Can you tell me what you saw before, during, and after the accident?
This is a good opening question. It allows you to obtain specific details about the accident, as well as obtain the witness' location and relation to the accident. The goal is to get as many details as possible about the collision, so follow-up questions are encouraged. Some follow-up questions to ask in order to get more fact-validating details include:
- Did anyone involved in the wreck appear to be speeding?
- Did any of the drivers break the law (running a red light, failing to yield, etc)?
- Did anyone appear to be driving carelessly or recklessly?
- Did anyone appear to slam on their breaks or swerve out of their lane, etc?
2. Where were you standing during the accident?
While the witness will likely tell you this during question one, you want to ensure they elaborate on it. Their location and relation to the accident may come into question throughout your car accident case, so you want to be precise in knowing these details from the start. Additionally, often there are two or more witnesses, and interviewing multiple witnesses who had varying positions can give a fuller picture of the events that lead to and transpired throughout the accident. When speaking with the witness about their location, be sure you have a good understanding of how clear their view was of the accident (did anything obstruct their view?), the weather (was it rainy, dark, or hazy?), and other facts that may have impacted their accuracy.
3. What were you doing before the accident occurred?
In some extremely fortunate situations, the witness may have been driving along in direct view of the accident. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In some cases, the witness may have been distracted with their attention diverted to something else. The witness may have been doing something morally questionable or illegal, in which case the witness' credibility will come into question and their testimony may not help the car accident case.
4. Can you draw a diagram or write out your statement?
Sometimes a witness will be able to draw a map of the accident, identifying streets, intersections, the location of the vehicles involved, the witness' own position at the time of the accident, identifiable landmarks, etc. This information can provide more details, literally providing a map to your lawyer, the insurance adjuster, the judge, or jury. This type of information may be of great use later if certain facts are contested.
5. Are there any other details you witnessed that may be important to share?
Perhaps you didn't ask something that jogged the witness' memory on an important piece of information. Asking this question allows them to reach into their brain to come up with anything that may be helpful about what they witnessed. This open-ended question is a good way to get that last bit of information that may deeply impact the success of your case.
Call or Text Our Car Accident Attorneys
Our car accident attorneys are in Phoenix, AZ, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and fully cover cases across both states. If you've been in an accident and need someone on your side to help set the record straight and get the financial, physical, and emotional recovery you need, we're here to help. Schedule a free consultation today by texting or calling (602) 345-1818. You may also fill out this convenient online form, and we will get back to you.