If you’ve been involved in a car accident in New York or Long Island, get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Eyewitness accounts of the crash can be crucial for establishing how a collision occurred. This is particularly important if you were injured or if your car was severely damaged in the crash. If you need to seek compensation from the other party (or parties) involved in the accident, you’ll likely have to prove that they caused the crash. Eyewitness accounts that can corroborate your side of the story could be vital to your case.
What Questions Should I Ask Eyewitnesses?
The following are some essential questions to ask people who might’ve witnessed your crash:
Can I get your name and contact information?
Get that information first, and make sure it is accurate. You want to do this first for two reasons.
- You or your attorney will need to contact them later, so get their name, phone number, email address, and any other relevant information from them.
- If they won’t give you their information or say they will “call you later,” they might not be a reliable witness.
What did you see before the accident?
This is important because you need to be sure this witness saw something that can help you establish the cause of the accident. It is not helpful if the alleged witness got there five minutes after the accident. Ask some additional questions that might help determine when the witness got there and what they saw.
- How fast were the cars going?
- Did anyone violate any traffic laws?
- Was anyone driving erratically?
What made you notice the accident? Where were you looking when the accident happened?
You want to establish where the witness was at the time of the crash. Ideally, they were already looking in the direction of the accident before it happened. Something like “I heard a loud crash behind me, and I turned around to see flames” is not as helpful as “I was getting ready to cross the street, and these two cars collided right in front of me.”
What did you do immediately after the accident?
This helps you sort out the actual witnesses from passersby who might have arrived after the crash. Someone who called 911 right away or went down to help the victims was probably on the scene. This can also help establish a timeline for the accident by giving you a time for the 911 call to ask for.
Is there anything else that you noticed?
Leave this question open and let the witness give you information. Make careful note of any specific details they may provide you, like passengers in the other car or anyone who left the scene before the police arrived.
Do you mind if my attorney calls you later?
You should ask if they mind giving a statement about what they saw and if they are okay with being contacted later. Make sure they understand that you are asking them to be a witness in your case.
At the time of the accident, it may not be possible to get any information besides names and contact information. That’s okay. There will be time to ask other questions after things have settled down.
What Not To Ask or Say to Potential Eyewitnesses
There are a few things you should not say when speaking to potential witnesses. It can be difficult to ask these questions, so if you’re not sure you can keep it impersonal, wait until your attorney can ask the questions for you.
- Don’t make it about yourself. Avoid saying things like, “Did you see how fast that driver was going when they hit me?” Do not ask them to lie or exaggerate their story in any way.
- Don’t make veiled promises or threats. Try not to say things like, “when I sue them, I’ll probably get a big settlement, and I’d appreciate any help,” or “I hope nobody crosses me up when I go after that driver.”
- Don’t ask leading questions. A leading question attempts to get a specific answer. For instance, “What did you see before the accident?” is not leading because it allows the person to describe what they saw. “You saw the red car hit me, right?” is leading because you’re trying to get them to agree with your version of events.
Don’t ask potential witnesses questions at the scene if you are injured or confused and need medical treatment. Names and addresses should be available on the police report or the insurance information. It is never a good idea to stagger around an accident scene bleeding and trying to get phone numbers. Take care of yourself first. Your attorney can get the rest of the information.
Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to another person’s negligence, contact Finz & Finz at (855) TOP-FIRM. We’ll be ready to discuss your case, talk to eyewitnesses, and build the strongest possible claim on your behalf. Call us or reach out to us online for a 100% free and confidential consultation today.