Talking To Witnesses And Filing A Police Report
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it is important to know what steps to take immediately after the accident. First, call the police. Next, try to find witnesses to the accident. Testimony from witnesses and a police reports are important pieces of evidence in a personal injury case. Both provide a third-party perspective on what happened and can help build the strength of your case.
Filing a Police Report
Immediately after a car accident, call the police. This goes for both minor fender benders and 10 car pile ups. The police officer wasn’t in the accident and isn’t experiencing the same intense emotions as you, so they are able to better document details you might forget, like the weather, road conditions, witnesses, etc. In this way, a police report can help strengthen a property damage or personal injury claim.
At a certain time after the accident, you should be able to request a copy of the police report from the department that created it. If you’ve retained an attorney, they might make this request on your behalf. Either way, obtaining and examining the accident’s police report can help you and your attorney prepare for your personal injury claim.
Talking to Witnesses
Once the police have been called, medical attention sought, and the parties have exchanged contact/insurance information, start looking for witnesses. There are two major categories of witnesses:
- Lay Witness: A lay witness is a person who provides testimony in a case based on their perceptions and personal knowledge only, not based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge. The most common lay witnesses are people who saw the accident occur, people involved in the accident, the police and medics who responded to the scene, ER doctors, etc. Even friends, family, and colleagues can be witnesses. They have had a personal relationship with the victim both before the accident occurred and after, therefore they can provide testimony on how the accident and subsequent injury has affected the victim physically and mentally. Lay witnesses don’t provide their opinions, just the facts of what they have perceived in relation to the case.
- Expert Witness: In contrast to a lay witness, an expert witness is qualified as an expert in a field by way of skill, experience, training, or education. Expert witnesses usually do not have any direct relation to the accident or victim, rather they are outside resources used to provide informed opinions on contested issues in the case.
If you are involved in a car accident, gather witness information early and often. From eye witnesses, to the reporting police officer, to your treating doctor; both lay and expert witnesses could be the crucial key to obtaining fair compensation in your car accident case.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Kamper Estrada, LLP for a free consultation.