Although witness statements concerning an auto accident are not always necessary, sometimes they are essential when one party is attempting to prove that another party was at fault in the accident. An accident witness report differs from the reports made by any drivers, passengers or other individuals involved in the crash because the witness is not motivated by self-interest. In other words, the witness has no stake in the outcome of the accident investigation. Thus, their statement should be wholly unbiased and consist only of facts.
Anyone who was on the scene may be asked to make a witness statement. Someone who was working in the area or passing by may have had a clear view of what happened in the collision. Witness statements do not have to be given in a pre-determined legal format. A simple written statement usually suffices. The statement does not require notarization. However, it is important to have the witness sign the statement and to have them provide contact information. This can prove to be invaluable if the case goes to court later and the witness is needed to verify their statement before a judge and jury.
Use the Facts
Sticking to the facts helps to create a helpful witness statement. It's important to be as detailed as possible. Make certain to include the date and time of the accident. The witness may note the precise location of the crash, which vehicles were involved and how the crash occurred. It may also be useful to include notes about the weather and lighting at the time of the accident, as these factors can affect the driver's ability to react on the road. Any of these details can be used to establish who was at fault in the accident. Because the witness is an uninterested party, they should be able to offer unbiased information that does not favor one driver over the other.
Seeking Out Witnesses
Although the police may interview a few accident witnesses, they do not usually go out of their way to do so. They rely on the evidence of the crash site itself, looking at things like skid marks and damage to the vehicles and other property to determine what happened. Someone who has been involved in an accident, and fears that they may be wrongfully accused of having caused the crash, may want to assume responsibility for taking witness statements.