Let’s say you’ve just been in a car accident. You’ve assessed the situation, determined if anyone needs first aid, called the police, and exchanged insurance information with the other driver. Great! Now what? Well, now you need to see if anyone witnessed the accident and get a statement from those witnesses. Why? Because if there were any injuries, you’d need proof you weren’t at fault. Because when you file a personal injury claim, and it comes down to your version of the accident versus the other driver’s version of the accident, the witness statements can mean the difference between you getting a fair settlement for a large sum of money or not recovering any money at all.
What is the witness statement?
A witness statement is a short, written account of the accident by someone who actually witnessed the accident. The statement mustn’t be hearsay or conjecture by someone who only heard about the incident. It must be a first-hand account of the event to be viable at a trial. It could be a witness from a business who saw the accident, a passerby, another driver at the scene, etc. Generally speaking, it’s someone who has nothing to gain monetarily from the accident so that they can provide an objective and accurate statement. This type of statement will serve as evidence and aid a personal injury attorney, such as KL, in proving the other party is at fault. Note that it’s best to get these statements as soon as possible, as people tend to forget details or embellish a story over time. A personal injury attorney usually can if you can’t get these statements yourself. But if you can, here are some questions you’ll want to ask your witness—and remember, details are critical. Overall, you’re trying to answer the who, what, when, why, and how questions of the accident.
Where were you located when you saw the accident?
What time of day was it, and what was the weather like?
Were there any traffic lights, and what color were they when the accident happened?
Did anyone go through a stop sign?
Did anyone appear to be speeding?
Was there anything else at the scene of the accident that could have impaired the driver’s vision or ability to maneuver on the street?
Were the drivers wearing seatbelts? Were their passengers wearing seatbelts?
Did anyone appear to be injured when they got out of their vehicles?
Did you hear any squeals or tires screeching as if someone was trying to avoid an accident?
Did you call 911, or were emergency services already at the scene?
Creating a witness statement for yourself.
When you recount the accident and make your own witness statement, take your time and recall in as much detail as possible what you were doing prior, during, and after the incident occurred. Try to be objective (which can be challenging) and stick to the facts themselves, leaving out guesses, feelings, opinions, or personal biases about the other driver. Note that your witness statement can sometimes be used against you, so you should refrain from making a statement to the other driver or their insurance company. It’s always best to get advice from an accident attorney first. An exception to this is when you’re the observer of someone else’s accident, and a responding officer will ask you to provide a witness statement, which is fine.
A recap: why the witness statement is essential.
These statements are important because they often provide an objective view of the events of an accident in detail, which may not be obtainable any other way. The witness statement puts the facts in writing so that later, other parties (lawyers, juries, etc.) can determine and interpret the evidence to negotiate and determine a claim. Once a personal injury attorney knows what eyewitnesses remember and other pertinent facts, they can evaluate the strength of a case and predict the outcome or potential settlement for their client. And after seeing evidence from the other side, they can estimate their odds of winning and decide whether settling would be preferable. Most auto accident cases settle before trial based on the strength of evidence, such as compelling witness statements.
The Bottom Line
Witness statements are important in determining a fair settlement. So if you’ve been injured in a car accident and need help from experts who will do their best to obtain these essential statements for your defense, contact KL Injury Attorneys. It only takes a few minutes to gain insight into your case at no cost to you.