Being in a car accident, even a minor one, can be a traumatic experience. It is important to keep your cool while taking actions to protect yourself in possible future insurance or legal investigations.
Of course, you should exchange information with the other party, but you should also gather evidence about the accident. A phone’s camera is your best friend: you can take pictures of damage, road conditions, even weather conditions. The police will also investigate these issues, but DBM’s Coquitlam personal injury lawyers counsel that it’s still a good idea to do your own.
One of the most important things you can do is to find witnesses to the accident. But there are better ways than others to gather your witnesses. Here are 4 DOs and DON’Ts you should know.
- DO get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any bystanders who saw the accident. Independent bystanders have more credibility in disputes than people traveling with you because they do not have any vested interest in the outcome of the settlement.
- DO determine the physical attributes of the witnesses. Do they have alcohol on their breath? Do they take any medication that could cloud their perception or affect their memory? How is their vision and hearing? Are they wearing prescribed corrective lenses or hearing aids? Were they walking a dog or subject to other distractions?
- DO speak to police officers to see if they got names and numbers of witnesses that you might have missed.
- DO be aware that courts have strict rules about what witness testimony is admissible. Consider calling DBM’s Coquitlam personal injury lawyers and giving them the evidence you have gathered. They can then advise you of your options.
- DON’T wait to get the witnesses statements about what they saw. Use your phone’s video camera or voice recorder to take their statement. Memories fade quickly and you want people’s recollections of what they saw while they are still fresh in their minds.
- DON’T interview an obviously distraught or traumatized witness right away. They will be having an adrenaline rush which can affect their ability to immediately remember. Get their information and contact them when they have had a chance to calm down and they are thinking more clearly.
- DON’T prompt the witness by suggesting what they saw. Don’t coach them, don’t argue with them, don’t ask them anything beyond, “What did you see?” Then record their answer without comment.
- DON’T, under any circumstances, offer to compensate a witness for their testimony, time, trouble or any other reason. This will absolutely destroy any credibility they would have with insurance organizations or courts.
Being in an accident is terrible, but the purpose of an insurance claim is to get you what you are entitled to, no more, no less. We suggest that if you have any questions at all, to call one of DBM’s Coquitlam personal injury lawyers.