Witnesses to motor vehicle collisions can clear up issues of liability, establish the chain of events leading to a crash, and provide crucial details.
If you saw an accident, learning how to write a car accident witness statement can help you recognize what is and isn’t important to include in your write-up.
The Basics of Your Witness Statement
When you agree to go on the record about a crash, you need to provide your contact information. This includes your:
- Full name
- Phone number
If there are issues with an insurance claim or a victim files a lawsuit, a personal injury lawyer or insurance adjuster may need to contact you for more information following your statement.
Describing the Accident
Car crashes are chaotic, and you may feel overwhelmed even as a witness. To start, focus on the basics like:
If you glanced at your phone or watch when the crash occurred, note the time. Describe the street or intersection where the accident happened, including if it was busy or deserted, whether there was construction, and if it was raining, sunny, or icy.
You may not know what will be important, so include what you can remember. Any details could be pivotal to understanding the accident’s cause. For instance, that large pothole that caused one car to blow a tire and strike another vehicle could be grounds for a lawsuit against the city (GMU § 50-E).
Questions That May Jog Your Memory of what Happened
You can sort through the rest of the crash by answering questions like:
- Where were you in relation to the collision?
- What first got your attention?
- Who was moving where?
- How did the drivers act and react?
- Were there other witnesses?
You don’t have to worry about knowing the underlying reasons for the accident. Instead, focus on what you know happened. If there are gaps because you couldn’t see or don’t remember, that’s okay; don’t try to fill them in with your imagination.
Don’t Forget to Include What Happened After the Crash
Describing the aftermath of an accident is just as important as describing the collision itself when writing a car accident witness statement. Mention any of the following details if you noticed:
- Behavior as people exited their vehicles
- Appearance of injuries
- Any property damage
- Comments made by people involved
Maybe one of the drivers apologized for a specific action that caused the accident. Perhaps you saw someone limping. If you saw damage to vehicles or other property, try to be as specific as possible when describing it, such as angles or type of damage (broken glass, dents, jagged pieces, etc.).
Don’t try to fill in the blanks if you didn’t hear the full conversation. Don’t assume someone was hurt based on the damage to the vehicles. Focus on what you directly saw and heard.
What You don’t Say Is Also Important
If you’ve ever given a statement to an insurance company for an accident you were in, a lawyer may have advised you not to deviate much from basic facts. The same is true in how you write a statement after witnessing a car accident. Avoid including:
For example, if you saw a car swerve and hit another vehicle, you may assume the swerving car was 100% at fault. However, maybe you didn’t see the swerving car trying to avoid another negligent driver, or that it had a tire failure due to a manufacturing error that caused them to lose control.
Car accident lawyers, like the ones on our team at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, evaluate statements like yours alongside photographs, vehicle damage, medical records, police reports, and accident reconstruction. Leave the deductions to us.
Why Witness Statements Matter
In insurance claims and lawsuits, what you say in a car accident witness statement can help with:
- Identifying liable parties
- Determining if negligence was involved
- Understanding contributing factors
- Supporting a victim’s version of events
- Fighting back against insurance companies
As an unbiased observer with no stake in the proceedings, you can report facts that could be essential to resolving a dispute. For example, an insurance company may argue that someone is not as injured as they claim. Your statement could be used in conjunction with other evidence to argue otherwise.
Holding Negligent Drivers Responsible
You can help uphold the law by being a witness. It is a crime in New York for someone to flee the scene of an accident that caused damage or injuries, per NY VAT § 600.
If you saw that happen, you can provide evidence that could help track down a negligent driver who broke the law.
For Questions About Witness Statements, Call Us
If you aren’t sure how to write a witness statement after a car accident or are unsure how witness statements will function in your case, contact our team today at (516) 358-6900.
The car collision team at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP can provide you with information for free. Call now.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900