Witnesses to a Miami car accident are valuable resources when you are filing insurance claims for your injuries, as well as if you resort to litigation. These individuals may have details regarding the incident that you may not know; plus, eye witnesses are typically neutral parties in your case when it comes to fault. Their statements and testimony are generally viewed as being more credible than your own because they do not stand to gain. According to the Florida Rules of Evidence, almost anyone is competent to be a witness – as long as they have personal knowledge of the circumstances.
As such, it is important to communicate with potential witnesses at the scene, starting with names and contact information. This may or may not be possible depending on the nature of your injuries, but do what you can if you are physically able. Your Miami car accidents attorney will handle the legal details, but you should follow a few tips for talking to witnesses after the crash.
Find Out the Witness’s Location
After you get names and exchange contact information, ask questions about how the person was able to view the accident. The most important is his or her location in the moments leading up to the crash, as well as during and immediately afterwards. You should also inquire about:
- When the person arrived on the scene;
- Where the witness was going and coming from;
- Distance from the collision;
- Whether there were any obstructions; and,
- Any other relevant details.
Ask Basic Facts About the Accident
Once you have jotted down notes about the individual’s position, request additional facts. The point is to obtain firsthand knowledge and observations, and your attorney can get details later through your notes. You might start with an open-ended question regarding what the witness saw, and then fill in gaps by asking:
- Traffic and weather conditions;
- Factors related to the scene of the crash, such as streets, signage, lane markings; traffic signals, and other matters;
- What he or she heard, which may corroborate or contradict what the witness saw;
- Where vehicles were located before, during, and after; and,
- The speeds of the vehicles.
These details are important to obtain right away, at the scene of the collision. Your notes are a way of refreshing the witness’ recollection, since memory can fade over time. The responsible driver’s insurance company will want to get a statement from any witnesses, and they may be testifying in court. Either of these occurrences could be weeks, months, or even years down the road, so taking action now ensures better input from the witness.
Your Miami Car Accidents Lawyer Will Handle Additional Witness Details
Because of the importance of witness testimony, in an insurance claim AND in court, it is crucial that you get these critical details whenever possible. Our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA is prepared to pick up where you leave off, ensuring that witness recollection provides proper support for your case. To learn more, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL to set up a free case evaluation.