When you've been in an auto accident, physical evidence can help prove your case, but it's also helpful to have witnesses who saw what happened. This can be especially useful in finding a driver who fled the scene or in a case where the physical evidence isn't conclusive.
You can help gather information from eyewitnesses from the following sources:
Witnesses at the scene
If you're able to talk to witnesses at the scene of your accident, make sure to get their contact information, including cell phone numbers. Ask them to write down their account of the accident in as much detail as they can, signing the document and providing their phone number at the bottom.
The police officer who investigates your accident will take statements from witnesses and file a report with this information. The officer may provide you with a report number, and you can contact your local law enforcement agency to get a copy of your report in about a week.
In addition to the statements, a police report should also contain the names and contact numbers for witnesses.
Especially if you're in a well-populated area, more people than you realize may have seen what happened.
If there are stores nearby, the owner or one or more customers may be potential witnesses. If your accident was in a more residential area, nearby homeowners may have seen it.
Your accident may have been captured by a surveillance camera. They're more and more common these days, with everyone from stores to cities installing them.
The tapes may be readily handed over, or you may need your personal injury lawyer to petition the court for a subpoena.
Traditional media can be a powerful tool in finding witnesses to your accident, especially if it was serious. A local newspaper or television station may be able to print or air images of vehicles that were near your accident in the hopes of contacting the drivers. For example, a South Carolina television station recently aired and published video of possible witnesses to a tragic accident that killed a 3-year-old boy. The people in the vehicles shown were asked to contact police.
You can also run a classified ad in your local newspaper detailing the location, time, and date of your accident and asking witnesses to come forward.
The use of social media has exploded over the past few years, and it's very common for people to post about or even photograph what they see. Perhaps a nearby driver posted or Tweeted about passing your accident. He or she could be contacted via their social media account and serve as a potential witness.
You could also post online about your accident, asking for witnesses to come forward.
If you've been injured in an auto accident, a personal injury lawyer (like those at Kuzyk Law) can help you gather the evidence you need to form the basis of the best possible case.