Top 5 Questions to Ask a Car Accident Witness
When it comes to determining fault in a car accident, witnesses often play an important role in confirming the claimant’s account of the collision. But a witness account is only possible if their contact information is gathered at the scene and if the right questions are asked – often after the injured party has received appropriate medical care and had a chance to calm their nerves. Every accident is different, and in many cases, an accident victim is too injured to interview witnesses at the scene. This is why it is so important to work with a personal injury attorney. An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to question witnesses to get a clear picture of the events that led to the accident from their perspective.
Top 5 Questions to Ask A Car Accident Witness
There are some specific questions that you should ask any car accident witness:
- Can I have your contact information?
This is the first and most important question to ask because there is a good chance that the witness will need to be contacted to further explain what they saw at the scene of the accident. Often, a car accident attorney or the insurance company will want to confirm the witnesses account of the accident.
- Can you tell me what you saw just before and during the accident?
This is a good open-ended question that allows the witness to recount as many details as possible about what led to the accident. For example, if the at-fault driver ran a red light before colliding with your vehicle they might say that. This is an opportunity to let the witness explain how they saw the accident unfold without any leading questions.
Ask follow-up questions to get clarity on any specific, relevant details. Some good examples are:
- Did either driver appear to be speeding?
- Did you see a vehicle swerve out of their lane?
- Did you see any vehicle disobey a traffic law?
- Did it seem like either driver slammed on their brakes right before the accident?
- Did either vehicle appear to be driving erratically?
- Where were you located just before and during the accident?
The location that a witness is in will affect how well they could see the accident. Factors such as how far away they were from the scene as well as if they were inside a vehicle or on the road as a pedestrian will help determine what they could have seen. Ideally, there will be more than one witness and each of them will have been in a different position so the scene can be recreated from multiple angles.
Other factors to ask about are:
- How clear a view did the witness have of the accident? Did the witness have anything obstructing their view such as a mailbox or even a building?
- What was the weather like at the time of the accident? If it was pouring rain or a snow storm, it could make it much harder to see what happened.
- What was the light like? Was it dark, dusk, dawn or daylight? Was the sun in their eyes at the time of the accident?
- What were you doing just before the accident?
If you are lucky, the witness will have been standing alongside the road or in a car right behind you with their full attention on the scene as the accident unfolded. In reality, some witnesses may have been at least partially distracted or looking at something else before their attention turned to the collision. It’s important to understand what the witness was doing.
- Is there anything else you saw that you think is important to share?
It’s quite possible that the witness will have more information to share at the end of the conversation; maybe something that you didn’t think to ask them. Closing with an open-ended question is the best way to ensure that you didn’t miss any vital information the witness has that might be relevant to your accident.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!