It only takes seconds for an automobile accident to occur, leaving you with damaged property or personal injury. If you encounter a driver who refuses to take accountability for causing the incident, or significant damage or injury, it’s time to seek professional guidance. An accident attorney in Houston, TX can help you determine the best course of legal action and decide if statements from those who witnessed the accident would be valuable to your case.
Should I Talk to Witnesses Who Saw the Accident?
Witness statements are valuable and can provide essential information you need to receive compensation in an incident where you are not at fault. If you need to seek legal recourse for damages or injury, witness statements are beneficial for corroborating the sequence of events that led to the accident. Other drivers or pedestrians who witnessed the incident can prevent you and the other driver from becoming lodged in a standoff regarding who was at fault.
Benefits of Witness Statements in Houston, TX
Whether you receive compensation from the other driver’s insurance company or have to compensate the other driver will depend on who was at fault in the accident. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the other driver’s insurance provider may question if their driver is truly at fault or not. It is not uncommon for the offending driver to claim innocence and accidentally or purposefully misremember critical moments leading to the incident.
When you and the other driver remember something different, a witness can confirm which party is remembering things accurately. A statement from a witness can help avoid liability for an accident you didn’t cause and prevent your insurer from paying out a claim to the other driver.
When a witness makes a statement at the accident scene, what they witnessed is captured immediately. Memories can warp and lose clarity over time, so having witnesses make statements as soon as possible following the crash ensures that their perception of what happened is as accurate as possible.
Over time, it is easy for aspects of the event to become embellished or minimized. When a witness statement is collected right away, you can access a reasonably objective view of what happened without time altering the witness’s perspective.
Your accident attorney can help you decide if a witness statement is necessary to help you establish that the other driver is liable. For example, suppose a witness sees the other driver behaving recklessly, texting while driving, or another offense. A statement can help you prove that your car insurance provider should not be responsible for covering damages that occurred in the accident.
If you and your attorney wish to settle your case without taking it to trial, seeking out witness statements is a wise course of action. Since their report can provide key evidence in determining which driver is at fault, they may have information that shows the other side is at fault. This information can persuade the other driver that settling out of court is the more straightforward option, as they see unbiased evidence showing them to be at fault.
Providing Information for a Trial
Sometimes you may not be able to settle the case out of court. When this occurs, you’ll be thankful for a solid witness statement. Jurors typically view witnesses as objective and without bias. This impartiality makes the statement of a witness credible. As a result, you’re more likely to find the verdict swinging in your favor if a witness verifies your description of the events.
A Neutral Perspective
It’s typical for the insurance provider for the at-fault driver to doubt your recollection of the accident. The insurer may question whether you are portraying the interaction honestly or changing the story to avoid liability for the accident.
Who can Serve as a Witness?
Your witness will often be an individual present when the accident occurred. However, someone who arrived at the location after the accident occurred could also serve as a witness. A witness who came following the incident will not be able to confirm who was at fault, but they can confirm that they saw damage to your vehicle or that you were injured.
Witnesses are also beneficial for more than visual observations. An individual who overheard the other driver admitting to texting while driving or blatantly admitting fault can be a helpful resource for you and your accident attorney.
How do I Approach a Witness?
If you are able, talk to any witnesses at the accident scene. You’ll want to introduce yourself and ask them if they saw the accident. If they did, you’ll need to ask them if they would be willing to give a statement. While you may be on edge and tense following the accident, remember to be polite to the witnesses, who do not legally have to make a statement.
If a witness is reluctant or refuses to make a statement, do not harass them. Responding rudely or becoming insistent with a witness who doesn’t wish to help will not work in your favor. Remember, in Houston, TX, the law does not require individuals to provide a witness statement for automobile accidents. However, most individuals are willing to help when asked politely.
What Shouldn’t I Say to a Witness?
When approaching witnesses, there are certain things you cannot say. For example, don’t tell your witness specific details you want them to put in their statement. Also, do not ask the witness to omit any details that could paint you in a negative light or prove you to be the at-fault driver.
No matter how tempted you may be to try to explain your side of the event to a witness, don’t do it. Giving the witness direction on what to say in their statement ruins your credibility and can negatively impact your case should it require legal intervention. Moreover, it can even be considered coercion, depending on what you say.
What Should I do If a Witness Agrees to Talk?
If a witness is willing to discuss the accident with you, write down their name, phone number, and address. Ask the witness for permission to write down what they told you. Ideally, write their statement right then if you can. Later you can email or mail them a typed copy to review and sign if they are satisfied with it.
Even if a witness has agreed to make a statement, they can change their minds. The witness retains the right to refuse to provide a written or verbal statement. Your only option would be to file a lawsuit and have them subpoenaed to appear in court.
Consider Contacting an Accident Attorney
Unfortunately, no matter how diligent a driver you are, you can’t always count on other drivers to behave responsibly. If you’re in an accident, and other drivers or even pedestrians have witnessed the incident, ask for their contact information. Also, consider contacting an attorney. They can help you collect witness statements and ensure you receive appropriate compensation for damages and injury.
Car accidents can overwhelm even the most competent individuals. So if you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of an accident, trying to navigate insurance claims, or seeking restitution for damages, it’s time to talk to a professional. Contact our caring team of attorneys at Houston Injury Lawyers, and schedule a free case consultation today.