Whenever there is an accident, you should always take stock of your surroundings and note as many details as are feasible in the moment. Exchange information with any drivers involved and take photos. Of course, attend to any injuries first and foremost. However, if there are witnesses to the accident, they may also help your case, especially if it is ambiguous who was at fault or if there may be a lawsuit.
When should I approach a witness to an accident?
Do not try to chase anyone down, but if people remain on the scene, it may be helpful to speak to them about what they saw. Eyewitnesses who are credible (not related to you or who were in your car) can help your case if there is a lawsuit.
Only approach a witness when:
- you and passengers of your car are safe
- You can get to them safely
- The witness has stayed at the scene. You do not want to leave the scene of an accident until the authorities have arrived to ascertain fault and take care of any injured parties.
What to ask for:
- Request their name and contact information.
- Ask if they mind being recorded. Otherwise, write down key information about what they saw.
- When police arrive on the scene, ask the witness to speak to the officer and/or if it is okay for the authorities to contact them to verify what happened.
A witness to an accident may then be approached by an attorney if their testimony is needed in court.
Witnesses can also assist in an emergency situation without being held liable through a Good Samaritan law: “ A person who in good faith administers emergency care is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency unless the act is wilfully or wantonly negligent “(Texas Statutes). Anyone who assists in the accident may also be considered an eyewitness, especially if they saw the accident happen.
If you are asked to be a witness to an accident, make sure you stick to the facts and don’t try to presume who was at fault. Simply state what you saw without bias for one side or the other. If you witness an accident, try to stay on the scene until authorities arrive so that you can give a statement as to what you saw. Your testimony could become very valuable if a lawsuit is pursued. However, you should never feel pressured to give a statement; simply do so if you feel that your statement can help set the record straight through a clear and accurate retelling of what happened.
As always, we are at your service should you ever need an attorney.