Eyewitnesses in an Accident: Can they hurt or help your claim?

“I saw it with my own two eyes!” This might be the defense you’ll try to use when supporting your personal injury claim after a serious accident. Eyewitness accounts either from yourself or others on the scene of an accident can be a useful tool when supporting your side of the story. 

One of the things any personal injury lawyer will recommend after an accident is to collect information from any eyewitnesses who may have seen what happened. This includes not only getting a statement, but their contact information in the event that you need to follow up. Having eyewitness accounts can corroborate a personal injury claim as well as help piece together the details of what actually occurred as many times the victim and defendant disagree or may have a hard time remembering the events, especially if injuries are involved; however, sometimes using an eyewitness can make a claim even more complicated.   

The human mind is not infallible and often an eyewitness may think they saw something that they actually did not. Over time memories may fade or become altered. Some eyewitnesses may be afraid to step forward and share information. A lawyer or insurance company adjuster from the other side may try to take advantage of this to discredit you and your eyewitness and it could destroy your chances of a favorable outcome. 

In order to make the best use of an eyewitness after an accident if you plan on pursuing a personal injury claim, you should take the following steps: 

  • At the scene write down their name, address, phone number, e-mail address ,and even the license plate number of their vehicle if applicable.
  • Ask them to write down what they saw or take a video of their statement to you on your cell phone or camera.
  • Obtain copies of the police report related to accident for information.
  • Send a certified or registered letter to the eyewitness to confirm their address. 

By obtaining this information, you can have the best chances of using an eyewitness to your advantage in your personal injury claim. 

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