What Information Should I Get From Witnesses After a Car Accident?

On your way home from work on a run-of-the-mill Tuesday evening, you decide to pull over and refill your gas tank. You signal and begin to turn right into the same gas station you’ve used for the past 15 years. Suddenly, in what feels like a flash, your vehicle is hit from behind.

Several days later, you’re informed by your insurance company that they’ll be denying your claim because the adjuster determined that you didn’t use your turn signal. You try to contend, but your argument lacks credibility as the dispute is now just your word against theirs.

A story like this is why it’s so important to find a credible witness to support your case after an auto accident. A third-party witness who doesn’t have a relationship with either driver can be invaluable in determining the true outcome of a crash because they have nothing to lose by giving an honest depiction of the accident.

Once you do get a hold of a witness, it’s important to know what questions to ask and how to proceed so that you can seek damages from the negligent driver.

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What to Do Immediately After a Car Crash

In the minutes after your accident, you may feel stunned. It’s important to know that this is a completely normal feeling. Car accidents are far too common and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Keeping a cool head and following the right procedures could save you time and money down the line.

If you’re injured, you may not be in the ideal state to find a witness. Your first priority should always be to check if you or anyone else in the vehicle has been harmed. If so, call emergency medical services immediately. Likewise, even if the incident was minor and everyone is cooperative, call the police. They will be essential in writing up an official report to give to your insurance company.

As soon as you’re able to ensure everyone’s safety, begin the process of identifying witnesses.

two men taking pictures of their cars after a car accident

How to Find a Witness at the Scene of an Accident

Look around for pedestrians, drivers of vehicles that have pulled over to help, people in adjacent buildings, or anyone else who might have seen the events of the crash as they unfolded in real time. Some witnesses are more credible than others: those who are completely impartial, saw and heard the crash in its entirety, and are of sound mind.

Nevertheless, even if the witness didn’t observe the actual collision, they may still be able to provide valuable information. For instance, someone pumping gas who only observed you using your turn signal would still be useful in proving your side of the story.

What Questions to Ask Your Witnesses

Tracking down a witness after a car accident in New York—especially if you’ve just sustained an injury—can be tricky. Even more difficult can be asking them all the appropriate and responsible questions while you’re overwhelmed and stressed. Rest assured, you don’t have to determine every last detail of your case on the spot. Merely exchanging contact information will do the trick for now. You can always go back and speak with your witness at a later point. Preferably, you should work with a qualified car accident attorney who has experience questioning witnesses.

Here are examples of questions you should ask witnesses once you’ve exchanged contact information:

  • Where were you when the accident occurred?
  • Did you have a clear view of the events that transpired?
  • What were you doing just before and during the accident?
  • Can you explain in your own words what you saw?
  • How were the cars positioned when the accident occurred?
  • Did you hear anything out of the ordinary?
  • Did the cars seem to be speeding or otherwise recklessly driving?
  • Did you observe any kind of traffic infraction, such as an illegal lane change?
  • What was the weather at the time of the accident?
  • What did you do just after the accident occurred?
  • Did you see any other witnesses who might have more information?
woman with question marks above her head on a gray background
woman with question marks above her head on a gray background

What Questions to Ask Your Witnesses

Tracking down a witness after a car accident in New York—especially if you’ve just sustained an injury—can be tricky. Even more difficult can be asking them all the appropriate and responsible questions while you’re overwhelmed and stressed. Rest assured, you don’t have to determine every last detail of your case on the spot. Merely exchanging contact information will do the trick for now. You can always go back and speak with your witness at a later point. Preferably, you should work with a qualified car accident attorney who has experience questioning witnesses.

Here are examples of questions you should ask witnesses once you’ve exchanged contact information:

  • Where were you when the accident occurred?
  • Did you have a clear view of the events that transpired?
  • What were you doing just before and during the accident?
  • Can you explain in your own words what you saw?
  • How were the cars positioned when the accident occurred?
  • Did you hear anything out of the ordinary?
  • Did the cars seem to be speeding or otherwise recklessly driving?
  • Did you observe any kind of traffic infraction, such as an illegal lane change?
  • What was the weather at the time of the accident?
  • What did you do just after the accident occurred?
  • Did you see any other witnesses who might have more information?

Get Legal Assistance You Can Count on at The Barnes Firm

If you’re having trouble tracking down or questioning a witness, the New York car accident lawyers at The Barnes Firm are here to help. We’re a group of skilled attorneys who are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable experts in our fields. We’ve helped our clients get millions of dollars in compensation from settlements and verdicts and have delivered positive results for our clients time and time again. If you’ve just been in a car accident, we’re here to fight for you.

To speak with one of our attorneys about your case, schedule your free consultation by completing an online contact form, or give us a call today!

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000