One thing I have noticed in my years of practice as a car accident lawyer is that eye witnesses to car accidents do not want to get involved. Likewise, they just keep driving and choose not to stop and provide their information. If you witness a car accident, you should stop and give your information. As an eye witness, you can help resolve conflicts about the events surrounding the accident thereby helping to avoid lengthy and expensive litigation. This in turn saves valuable time and money for the insurance companies and our overly crowded courts.
Here are some helpful hints that you can use in the event you witness a car accident:
1. Give your name and contact information to each driver individually. If you give your information to one driver and not the other, then you appear biased. Remember that you want to always appear independent and unbiased. At least give your name and telephone number. You can choose to give more contact information if you feel comfortable doing so.
2. Do not discuss the accident with any of the drivers or other witnesses at the scene. If you are asked what you saw, just politely say that you prefer not to discuss the accident with either of the drivers at the scene and will be glad to discuss it later with the police or the insurance companies.
3. Tell the police what you saw. You should tell the police what you witnessed, but make sure the other drivers are not around to hear what you have to say. The police will usually talk to you in private anyway. But if any of the other drivers are listening in, just politely tell the police that you would rather discuss the accident privately. Be sure to give your contact information to the police.
4. Tell the attorneys and insurance adjusters your version of the accident. Normally, the drivers will report the accident to their insurance companies or their attorney. If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster or attorney, be sure to tell them your version of the accident. They may request a more formal written or recorded statement; however, you are not required to do so. Giving a written or recorded statement just gives the parties an opportunity to twist your words against you in the future. Therefore, you may politely refuse to give a written or recorded statement and just choose to engage in a casual telephone conversation.
5. Always tell the truth. Don’t guess or speculate about the facts and do not exaggerate or embellish your version of events. Just stick to the basic facts.
If you witness a car accident, STOP and HELP! If you were the innocent victim of a car accident, wouldn’t you want witnesses to stop and identify themselves? Then you should also be willing to do the same. Once the insurance company knows that there is an independent eye witness to a car accident, they can better evaluate the case for settlement without having to rely solely on the drivers’ version of events.