What information should I obtain from witnesses in a car accident?


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Question:

What information should I obtain from witnesses in a car accident?

Answer:

If you are involved in a car accident, one of the things you should do immediately is get information from any witnesses to the accident. Witness statements are pivotal to validating any claims made either in a settlement or in a civil trial. It is hard to think clearly in the shock of the moment, but don't think that you can forego getting all the information you can gather at the scene. Even if you decide not to file a claim or suit, you will need information for the police report that many states require.

One of the reasons you should get witness statements at the time of the accident is if you do later decide to pursue a claim for injuries or property damage. In a lot of cases, injuries may not present themselves at the time of the accident. Typical symptoms for whiplash or a back injury usually arise later and will need medical attention - which means accompanying medical costs that can rise into the thousands. Without any third-party witnesses, it will be that much harder to prove your case against the other driver, even if the other driver is totally at fault.

What Witness Information Should You Obtain?

If you can move after the accident and are not severely injured, you should determine if there are any witnesses to the accident other than yourself and the other driver. If you do locate witnesses who are willing to help, it is extremely important to get their names, addresses and phone numbers. Find out what they saw; this will be vital for your claim.

You should get the other driver's information, including information about his or her insurance company. If the driver is not the owner of the car, request to see the car's registration to get the necessary owner's information. Make sure you get the license plate number of the other car as well as the vehicle identification number.

If possible, take pictures of the accident scene. Again, this will help you document vital information. Document what happened as soon as possible because memories tend to fade.

Remember - always report a car accident. Then protect your claim or subsequent suit by consulting with an experienced car accident attorney.

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