Scenario 1: A renovation is in progress at your local bank. When you enter the foyer, you trip and fall on some construction tools that were left out. You ask to speak to the managers on duty, but they don’t seem to want to take responsibility for the accident. Another customer approaches, having witnessed the accident and overheard the ensuing discussion. He saw the disarray of tools and debris on the ground as he entered the bank and noticed that they weren’t cordoned off or properly signed. He offers to testify on your behalf.
Scenario 2: You are biking across an intersection when you hear the screeching of brakes and see headlights. The next thing you know, you’re lying on the asphalt, and your bike is a mangled heap of steel. The driver insists that she had the right of way, but you know this was not the case. You call the police, knowing that it will be your word against the motorist’s. Fortunately, a pedestrian who saw the incident approaches and agrees to share their observations.
As these scenarios demonstrate, personal injury cases can turn on the testimonies of witnesses. Remember that insurance companies will do all in their power to avoid paying for your injuries. That means that the onus is on you to build the most compelling, evidence-based case possible.
Witnesses can help you build that water-tight case. They can vouch for the evidence that you are presenting and even bring new evidence to the case to support your claims.
Witnesses are especially important to cases with disputed liability. You might think that liability is clear. The other party might even agree to liability at the time of the accident. But stories and points of view can change over time, so no one should assume a verbal acknowledgement won’t change over time, especially if the police weren’t called to the scene to take a recorded statement. Witnesses are often the key to clarifying liability when it is in question.
As you seek to secure witness testimony for your personal injury claim, here are a few tips to follow:
Act fast: If you’ve been involved in an accident, you may feel like you are in a daze. Your body may be reeling from the injuries, and your brain may be trying to process the fact that this actually happened to you. However, if you can compose yourself enough to approach witnesses (or get a friend or family member at the scene to do it for you), you will be doing yourself a critical favor.
If witnesses walk away without leaving contact information, you may never be able to speak with them again. And if you do get contact information but wait too long to follow up, witnesses may forget important details or simply lose interest in helping you out. As the old saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot.”
Get contact information: Before witnesses leave the scene, ask them to provide you with the following:
- Phone number (both work and personal)
Get recorded testimony: The more you can get in writing, the better. Ask witnesses if they will jot down the details that they observed. Ensure that they sign their account. Another approach is to ask them to tell you what they saw, write it down on their behalf, then ask them to review your written record for accuracy and sign their approval. Alternatively, you can use your phone to make an audio or video recording of their testimony if they consent.
If the witness is someone you know (like a friend who was in the car with you at the time of an auto accident), make sure that you get their testimony in writing, too. You may reason that you can talk to them later, but remember that details tend to grow fuzzy in people’s minds if you wait too long.
Enlist the help of an accident injury attorney right away: An experienced personal injury attorney will likely have dealt with hundreds of cases just like yours. They know which witnesses will be the most helpful, what information to get from witnesses to enhance your case, and how to apply witness testimony in the most effective way.
If you don’t feel like you have enough witnesses, or that you missed your opportunity to get witnesses onboard at the accident scene, they can help track down witnesses and gather their testimonies.
They can also advise witnesses about the fact that the plaintiff’s insurance company may call them. They can give guidance for handling insurance company inquiries so that they’re not caught off guard and say something they’ll regret.
Witnesses can help you construct an ironclad case, so make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to gather them, get documented testimony, and to use that testimony in the most beneficial ways. Contact a Las Vegas accident injury attorney for questions about witnesses for your case.