Fact: Car accidents are responsible for killing or seriously injuring someone every 16 minutes in the UK.
The statistics are shocking but unfortunately, it is a reality for road users. Due to the high rate of accidents, this means there will be a similar rate of accident claims being pursued in courts. If you have been involved in a car accident, especially if there has been a serious collision, a witness statement can be extremely valuable when pursuing a claim. Here we explain their importance, who can be used as a witness and how to get one after an accident. We often receive instructions from clients many months, sometimes even over a year after an accident. Usually the processing of the case has been delayed by an injured person as they may be recovering from serious trauma and injuries of utmost severity.
How can a witness statement help in an accident claim?
A witness statement can prove to be extremely helpful. Whilst many claims resolve out of court, it is important to prepare your case on the assumption that a court will hear the evidence. A witness statement must therefore be clear, concise, accurate and properly structured so that it flows chronologically. Memories can quickly fade, which is why it is necessary to capture what an eye witness sees, hears and observes as soon as possible. A credible witness can provide critical evidence that can help you win your case and prove that the other party is liable for your damages.
A witness statement can also be used to reduce or eliminate doubts that you were partially at fault for the accident. This is important because it is often the case that some of the blame is often put onto the injured party by at-fault drivers and insurance companies to devalue or deny payment.
Who can be an eyewitness?
An eyewitness is someone who was at the scene of the accident when it occurred. This means an eyewitness can be someone such as:
- An individual passing by who stopped to help.
- Bystanders not involved in the accident.
- Other road users not involved in the accident.
- Local employees in nearby businesses or customers.
- People living nearby who saw the accident.
How to gather an eyewitness statement
Gathering eyewitness evidence, is important if you have been involved in an accident. Of course, depending on how serious the accident is this may not be possible, but if you are physically able to, try to speak with anyone nearby who witnessed the events. Photos are also important. If you are critically injured it may not be possible to take photos. However any passers—by might be able to assist in capturing any images for you.
The first thing to do is to call the police to the scene and ensure that you receive the right level of medical care. It is also important that the third party reports the accident to the police as this is a mandatory requirement under road traffic legislation when someone is injured. If your injuries are serious, try not to move around after the crash by trying to gather evidence as this could harm your claim.
If you are fit enough to do so, ask people who saw the accident if they would be willing to provide a statement about what happened. All they will have to do at an early stage is to provide a name, address and contact details, with a number and email. Your solicitor will be able to follow this up for you later on. Try to get at least a few different names, as there is always a chance that someone may change their mind about being a witness after some time has passed. If you have not been able to speak to anyone, let the ambulance staff and police know. Where a serious incident is involved, the police will normally make a note of all road markings and interview people who are at the scene and ask them if they saw anything. Your solicitor can then later request a police accident report book. A fee is payable for this report. The report will contain some helpful information about the location, the witnesses and what the police officers observations were. A police officer can also be a witness and can be interviewed by your solicitor on your behalf.
Have you been involved in an accident?
If you have recently been involved in an accident you may be able to make a claim for compensation. But doing so on your own while recovering from your injuries can be very stressful, so it can help to get specialist legal advice on the best course of action. Saracens Solicitors are experienced in dealing with all types of accidents and can help you prepare a strong case if it goes to court. Call us today on 020 3588 3500 to speak to our personal injury team.