Can I Get a Witness For My Car Crash?
Too often we meet with the victim of a car crash who reports that “there were a lot of witnesses, but no one stayed.”
Figuring out liability for some car crashes can be tough. Sometimes the driver-at-fault admits his/her negligence at the scene, only to change his/her mind the next day. A car crash claim could boil down to your word against the other driver’s, unless witnesses can help prove liability.
What you do right after a crash can influence the outcome of a future claim or lawsuit. It may be hard, but identifying witnesses and getting their contact information should be one of your priorities.
A witness will sometimes stop to help, but once they determine everyone is relatively okay, they may leave. If your crash happened at an intersection, another driver waiting at the light or passing by probably saw it happen. Pedestrians, local business employees, and other drivers may have seen what happened. Don’t assume the police will talk to every witness or visa versa, so you need to get as much witness contact information at the scene as you can. You should also ask if anyone took photos with their phones.
The police respond quickly to serious car crashes resulting in injuries, fatalities, and/or significant property damage, and they will want to interview any witnesses at the scene. If you happened to miss your chance to speak with a witness and obtain his/her contact information, the police may have a record of it in their crash report.
If you suffered serious injuries in the crash, you may not be able to get witness information, and witnesses will have to be located thereafter. With serious crashes, witnesses will usually stop and try to render aid, so they are usually at the scene when the police arrive.
Admissibility is the determining factor in whether a witness statement plays any role in a trial or arbitration. Witness statements confirmed or supported by the investigation and corroborated by other witnesses are generally trustworthy and admissible evidence. Hearsay is inadmissible in court, and witness statements that include secondhand information or a witness’s personal interpretation of the events are also inadmissible.
If the witnesses tell what they saw to the police, the crash report will likely include details of their statements. Your attorney may want depose the witnesses to have recorded answers about their experiences during the event. Witnesses may or may not appear in trial, as attorneys sometimes decide to refer to their sworn deposition answers, but it is very likely the witnesses will be needed to personally testify as to the accuracy of their statements. This makes sure witness statements remain consistent as a case progresses, as inconsistencies generally indicate untruthfulness and unreliability.
If you get into a car crash, gather as much witness information as you can. Your case will depend on it. If you have questions, give us a call at (480) 833-1113.
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