Can I Get a Witness? By a Car Accident Lawyer.I am a car accident lawyer in Mesa, Arizona and once I saw an impatient pick-up driver put his truck into reverse to look for another way onto congested Gilbert Road from a parking lot. One small problem – there was a nice lady in a minivan directly behind him, and his pick-up crunched into her vehicle’s front end. Suspecting the pick-up driver would come up with alternative facts about what happened, I pulled into an adjacent parking lot, gave the lady my name and number and told her I saw what happened but couldn’t stay. Sure enough, several days later, an insurance adjuster called to ask me what happened, telling me that the truck driver claimed the nice lady’s minivan rear-ended his pick-up. Nice try, Mr. Pick-up.
It is near impossible to be involved in a car accident in Maricopa County without someone – sometimes many – seeing what happened. Some witnesses may even pull over, offer to help, and stick around waiting for the police. If you assume the witnesses’ names and contact information will appear in the crash report, you may be wrong. I have found that in my practice as a car accident lawyer too many times we’ve been told by accident victims that “there were witnesses,” only to find out that no witnesses are listed in the report.
The responding officers focus on:
- finding out what happened,
- making sure those involved and other motorists are safe,
- calling medical personnel for the injured,
- getting the wrecked vehicles out of the way,
- and getting this all done quickly.
The officers know all too well that many secondary crashes happen when other drivers are distracted by a crash scene.
The police work hard and do an outstanding job. They do their best to get it right. The officer investigating your car accident, however, is not concerned about helping you make your case against the driver-at-fault. That is why, if you’ve been involved in a car accident and you’re able to do so, get the names and phone numbers of anyone who says they saw all or part of what happened.
What Should You Do?
If you are involved in a crash, call 9-1-1 right away to report the car accident and request an officer come to the scene. If you are physically able, ask for the name and phone number, even a business card, of anyone who may have seen what happened. You should also take photos of the vehicles and scene.
What if You’re a Witness?
You’re not legally obligated to stay at the scene if you simply witnessed the crash, but it is the right thing to do. Those involved may need help at the scene or in the future. The victims may be too injured to call for help, and if you leave, they could be in trouble.
If you choose to stay, be careful you don’t get hurt. Park your car in a safe spot and turn on your flashers – don’t cause another crash trying to help. Call 9-1-1 and report the crash, and be prepared to give the location and preliminary assessment as to the victims’ injuries. While emergency services are on their way, you may choose to approach the crash scene. Do so with caution, keeping an eye out for distracted drivers, and stay on a sidewalk if available.
At the scene, try to quickly find out if everyone’s okay, but unless you’re an experienced medical provider, it is risky and usually a poor choice to try giving medical attention to a victim. It is better if you don’t touch the victims and encourage them to stay still unless their vehicle is on fire. If the victims are in shock, try to calm them down with words and let them know help is coming.
If you have a camera phone, you could also take a few photos of the vehicles and the scene, as those may help the innocent victims.
At Rowley Chapman & Barney, we strive to ease the pressure placed on car accident victims and offer a free consultation and case evaluation. If you’ve been in a crash, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced car accident lawyers today to discuss your rights and options. We can be reached at (480) 833-1113, and you will speak with someone in our office when you call.