If there are witnesses to your car accident, they can be a valuable tool for proving your case and getting the recovery that you deserve. You and your Las Vegas car accident lawyer must decide what questions to ask to use witnesses effectively. Here are 20 different car crash questions to consider asking a witness in an auto accident case.
First of all, make sure to assess injuries and get medical attention as needed if anyone is injured. Depending on the accident’s severity, a victim may feel disoriented or in shock. Asking a few questions can help determine if emergency help is needed. Questions may include:
What is your name?
Do you feel pain?
Where is the pain located?
Do you have any medical conditions?
How do you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?
Once you have made sure that all victims are cared for, you can identify any witnesses and ask them questions while the event is still fresh in their memory. If it’s not possible to gather information at the scene, get the names and numbers of witnesses to ask them questions once the situation is resolved or when you consult with a personal injury attorney.
It’s a good idea to be aware of the types of questions to ask a witness. Whether it’s on the scene or later on after getting legal advice and an injury lawyer is putting together a claim to help cover lost wages, pain, and suffering, or to cover medical bills resulting from an accident. Here are some important questions to consider:
1. Can You Tell Me in Your Own Words How the Accident Occurred?
Open-ended questions are great to start with because it allows the witness to give their own narrative of events. They might add details that you wouldn’t think to ask. Pay attention to important factors such as weather conditions, red lights, vehicles involved, and other crucial information. Once you hear them tell you about the accident in their own words, you can ask follow-up questions to fill in the gaps.
2. What Was the First Clue You Had That a Crash Occurred or Was About To Occur?
It’s helpful to know what caught the witnesses’ attention. For example, if they didn’t realize that there was a problem until they heard an impact, they’re not in a good position to comment on how the accident occurred. If they saw what happened leading up to the crash, they might be a great witness for insight into how the collision occurred.
3. From Your Perspective, How Did the Crash Occur?
This is another open-ended question to get as much information as possible from the witness. Before you ask for details, you should ask this open-ended question that allows the witness to give you an uninterrupted narrative about what they think is the most important.
4. Can You Go Into Detail About How the Crash?
Now it’s time to ask for details. Here are some of the questions that you can ask to get more specific information about how the crash occurred:
What lane was each vehicle in?
Can you describe the stretch of the road?
Did either vehicle try to swerve or slam on their brakes?
How fast was each car traveling?
How quickly did the accident occur?
Where did the cars travel after the accident?
Did you see debris from either car or damaged property?
5. Where Were You When the Crash Happened?
The witness’s location can help determine what perspective they had of the accident. Was the witness on foot or in a vehicle? Were they paying attention to the road, or was their attention directed elsewhere? Getting an idea of where witnesses were can help put together evidence from several perspectives.
6. How Far Were You From Where Car Accident?
Even a witness with the best intentions may not have been in the ideal position to observe the crash. Finding out how far they were from the accident can tell you whether their observations were reliable. If they were close, their remarks would be more credible than if they were 100 yards away.
7. Who Was With You When the Crash Occurred?
Asking about others can give you additional leads for witnesses. You can compare their statements to see where they agree and where their observations differ. Also, asking about others nearby can tell you where a witness’ attention may have been leading up to the crash.
How a witness responds to a crash can tell you what they believed happened. Did they immediately call 911? Did they run to a vehicle and administer first aid? How the witness reacted to the crash can shed light on how serious they thought the accident was.
9. Did You See Any Other People Nearby Who Might Be Witnesses Like You?
In addition to people who were nearby at the time of the crash, it’s important to ask about others that the witness might have seen. If the accident was on a busy street, a shop owner, bus driver, or area regulars might be able to provide more information about what occurred. If needed, this information could be helpful to track down other witnesses, find video footage, or other avenues to learn more about how the accident happened.
10. What Was the Weather When the Accident Occurred?
Weather conditions can shed light on how the accident may have occurred. Slippery roads, high winds, rain, and other unusual weather can help determine how the accident happened and whether the witnesses had an unobstructed view.
11. What Did People Do Right After the Accident Occurred? Who Got Out of Their Vehicle First?
What people do immediately after the accident can be evidence of injuries. You should ask who got out of their vehicle and how they appeared. Was medical help called, and how responsive were the people involved?
12. Do You Know Anyone Involved in the Accident?
Personal connections may influence a person’s story. If a witness was a close friend or family member, recalling events could be biased. You may be surprised to learn that a witness knows one or more of the people involved in an accident, and it’s good to know if there are connections between witnesses and victims.
13. Do You Have Any Expertise Relating to Vehicles, Accidents, Weather, or Anything Else Related To The Crash?
If a witness is a police officer, engineer, or accident reconstructionist, their statement may be impacted by their professional training. It’s a good idea to get the best overall impression of who the witness is and, if possible, understand a little bit of their background.
14. Did You Hear Anything That the Other Driver Said? Did You Listen to What Any Other Witnesses Said?
Ask the witness what they directly heard anyone else say. You mainly want to know if the witness heard the other driver make any statements immediately after the crash. Don’t put pressure on a witness to come up with something. Try to stick with just the facts.
15. Where Were You Headed When You Saw the Accident?
This question can shed light on the witnesses’ attention. Were they flustered or in a hurry? Were they out for a leisurely stroll, or were they having a stressful day? Their answer can shed light on what they were thinking at the time of the crash.
16. Where Were You Looking Before You Noticed the Accident? Were You on the Phone?
Distractions can call a witness’s statement into doubt. If they were talking to someone in person, looking at their phone, or looking in the other direction, their account may be less reliable than it would have been if they were looking directly at the crash without any distractions.
17. Did You Have a Clear View of Everything That Happened?
A witness may not always have a clear view of a crash. There may be other vehicles in the way or a building obstruction. You need to know if the witness clearly saw what happened and then give the witness testimony the credibility that seems most appropriate.
18. Is There Anything Else You Want Me To Know?
The witness may be eager to offer more details that you didn’t think to ask. Even though you may have thoroughly thought through every question, there may be aspects you left out. Allowing the witness to recall other impacting information could be vital to understanding exactly what happened.
19. Can You Write Your Observations Down And Sign Them For Me?
Having the witness write down their observations gives you a record. You can use the document to impeach the witness if they provide a different story later. It’s easy for details to get foggy as time passes. Getting a signed statement could prevent a change in the witness story.
20. What Is Your Contact Information? Do You Have Contact Information for Any Other Witnesses?
Whether or not you think you are involved in an accident that needs a witness’s perspective, it’s crucial to have witness information just in case you need it. Or, if you were able to ask questions on the scene, there is the chance that you may need to contact the witness again or find other witnesses.
A skilled attorney who practices personal injury law has years of experience questioning thousands of accident witnesses. They can help you determine if a witness is credible and use witness stories to your advantage and build a strong case.
Adam S Kutner, Injury Attorneys, can help guide you through the entire claims process. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help.
With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.