Accidents happen, and far too often, they happen as a result of someone’s avoidable negligence. Sometimes, it’s easy to determine liability in an accident case, but other times, it can present a considerably greater challenge. You’ll need concrete evidence to corroborate your side of the story, and one of the strongest forms of corroborative evidence you can count on is the verbal testimony of a witness.
If someone else had a clear view of what happened, they can be the deciding factor to confirm that you were not at fault for the incident and that another party’s negligence was responsible. But how do you go about approaching such a witness, and is there a particular etiquette you should follow when doing so? Read on to learn more.
What to Say When Approaching A Witness
If you’re able to remain at the scene of an accident without requiring immediate medical attention, you must speak to any witnesses at the scene of the crash before they leave because you might be unable to see them again. When approaching any witness who stopped to help, it’s important to follow the same general etiquette:
- Approach politely, explain the situation, as well as your role as an accident victim.
- Ask them how much of the situation they saw and if they would be willing to provide that testimony for an insurance claim.
- If they agree to help, ask for contact information.
- Ask if they would be willing to stay at the scene and deliver that testimony to police and/or first responders on the scene. Keep in mind that a witness may not feel comfortable speaking to an officer, particularly if they have a warrant out or any prior negative run-ins, so alternatively, offer to just have that testimony delivered to a lawyer.
What to Do in The Aftermath of An Accident
After an accident, you must follow up and establish lines of communication as soon as possible. Above all, your health and safety should be your biggest priority, but once your health is stable, initiating the insurance (and, if necessary, litigation) settlement process should be next in line. The opposing party’s insurer or attorney may try to contact you, but do not accept any early settlement offers, as you can’t rescind or walk them back when you do. Instead, contact a lawyer who can start the process and keep in touch with witnesses for you.
Under New Jersey law, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives victims approximately two years to file a lawsuit against the person or entity who caused them harm. While that might sound like plenty of time to procure an attorney and build your case with no rush, you won’t want to hesitate to do so. It’s far more difficult for a lawyer to conduct accident investigation and reconstruction far later after the fact, and likewise, longer time leaves a longer window for any witnesses to change their minds.
Studies suggest that memories can easily change over longer periods, more so than we consciously realize, so even the most reliable narrators can lose reliability without realizing it. That’s why you should establish a line of communication with your witness(es) as soon as possible and get in touch with experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.
Consult with Our Freehold Car Accident Lawyers
In Freehold and Greater Monmouth county, you’ll want to count on Lomurro Law for your experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney. Contact us today to learn more through a free initial consultation.