Locating Witnesses After An Accident | Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.
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Locating Witnesses After An Accident

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury

After a car crash, it can be unclear which driver was at fault. The other party’s insurance company may deny your claim if they believe there is insufficient evidence to show their driver was at fault. In this event, third-party witnesses may be the key to winning the insurance dispute.

Insurance adjusters typically inquire whether witnesses or bystanders were present at the scene if a discrepancy arises. Finding a credible, unbiased observer who will support your side of the story is critical to legitimizing your claim. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you find witnesses and develop supportive statements to get your insurance claim approved.

Why Do Witnesses Matter?

In some cases, the only witnesses to an accident are the drivers of each vehicle. Their statements are highly scrutinized by insurance companies because the drivers each have a reason to deviate from the complete truth of the matter. Each driver often genuinely believes the other party is at fault, and their statements will reflect that.

The presence of additional third-party witnesses is crucial. They can resolve conflicts between the stories of the drivers and determine which version of the event is most accurate. Witnesses are essential in determining the truth of what happened and who is at fault.

Examples of Neutral Witnesses

Immediately after a car accident, you should get medical attention and report the accident to local law enforcement. While you wait for a police officer to arrive, search for witnesses in the vicinity. Independent bystanders should not be related to you nor have any personal interest in the outcome of your claim.

Neutral witnesses can include:

  • Passing pedestrians or cyclists
  • Road, utility, and construction workers
  • Drivers or occupants of other stopped vehicles not involved in the crash, such as drivers who were stopped at a busy intersection
  • Nearby business owners, employees, or customers
  • Nearby residents/homeowners within line of sight

Witness Credibility Can Affect Your Claim

It’s essential to have credible witnesses. Only those witnesses who provide credible testimony are helpful to your case.

People are not generally walking around, ready to take inventory of what’s happening around them. Thus, finding someone with specific information about what happened just before and during a car accident can be challenging. Additionally, if a witness was concerned about their own safety at the time, they likely did not have time to take in all the details about their surroundings. Since the accident happens so fast, even a third party’s observations can be unreliable.

Some factors that affect the credibility of a witness include:

  • If they were driving a car at the time of the accident
  • If they were a pedestrian
  • If they were watching from a safe distance
  • If they saw the accident from start to finish
  • If they observed the vehicles before the accident
  • If they were distracted by walking a dog, caring for a child, or other obligation
  • If they discussed the event with anyone else before making an official statement

Additionally, the character of a witness may be called into question by an insurance company trying to deny a claim.

Some factors that may be pointed out to impeach a witness include:

  • They are a convicted felon
  • They have a reputation for dishonesty
  • They have an interest in the outcome of the claim
  • They have poor eyesight or hearing
  • They were intoxicated
  • They have a poor memory
  • They are easily confused

Many inherent problems may affect the credibility of a witness.

How to Find Witnesses

Begin looking for witnesses at the scene of the accident. They may be standing alongside the roadway where the crash happened.

In addition to witnesses on the street, after the road clears, you should take note of the addresses of all adjacent buildings and speak with anyone who might have observed the accident through a window.

When approaching witnesses, ask for their names and contact information in case your discussion gets cut short. If they seem willing, request that they record a brief statement describing their account of the incident. If you take a written statement, the witness should sign and date it at the bottom. You can then provide the information to the responding officer to include in their report.

In addition to eyewitnesses, streets with traffic cameras, local stores, ATMs, or parking lots might also be equipped with security cameras that captured pictures or video of the accident. The police report may also name witnesses you didn’t approach at the scene.

What Information Should You Collect?

When approaching a witness, you should immediately get their name and contact information in case your discussion is cut short. That includes contact info such as a phone number, email address, and home address. If they let you take a picture of their driver’s license, that will reduce some of the writing you have to do.

Some questions you should ask the witness include the following:

  • Did you witness the accident?
  • Did you see what happened right before, during, and after the crash?
  • What do you think caused the accident?
  • What were contributing factors?
  • Was anyone speeding?
  • Did you see anyone using their phones while driving?
  • Which driver had a red light?

The exact questions you ask will depend on the situation of your crash.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

Although witness testimony can contribute significantly to the result of a claims dispute, many other forms of evidence will help prove liability. When you are entangled in a complex insurance dispute, it’s to your benefit to seek the help of an experienced lawyer who knows what kind of evidence will best support your claim and can conduct an investigation into your crash.

At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we have helped countless clients in similar situations negotiate with unrelenting adjusters and ultimately win sizeable claim settlements. If you were a victim of someone else’s reckless driving or negligence, our skilled Chicago attorneys would fight for the compensation you deserve. The money we help you recover can cover the cost of medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and other damages.

Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including AuroraElginHinsdaleJolietNaperville, and Waukegan.

We offer step-by-step guidance in navigating the legal process, starting with the initial case evaluation. Please contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer to review your auto accident claim. We do not charge fees unless you are awarded a settlement or get a successful verdict.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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