Most of the time what happened in a personal injury accident is clear, but there are a lot of instances where what bystanders say can make a big difference. Here are some steps you can take to make sure that you do a good job as a witness:
• People who have just been injured tend to be overwhelmed and in shock, help them out by putting your contact information directly into their phone.
• Stay around the scene to make sure your statement is heard.
• Be specific about what you saw. Instead of using adjectives like negligent driving, describe what made their driving negligent.
• Write down what you saw. It could be a few months to a year before you’ll need to describe the events so this exercise will help refresh your memory.
• Don’t try to fill in gaps. It’s better to say you don’t know something then to guess motivations or timing.
• Remember that it’s not about taking sides it’s about the truth. If you seem biased your testimony won’t be as helpful.
The most helpful witnesses are the ones who relay what they saw with honesty and detail. Don’t play the role of accident reconstructionist; leave that to the experts.
Worried about being a witness? Have no fear — it’s not like the movies!
Another issue with witnesses is that they can be hesitant to get involved. We have the idea from films and television shows that witnesses speak in front of the court in long dramatic speeches or perfect public speaking. In reality personal injury issues rarely go to court, and giving your eyewitness statement will actually help the issue to resolve before it reaches that stage. In the rare occasion that the case does go to court, giving your testimony is not public speaking but rather a conversation about what you saw.
It is important to remember that when you are acting as a witness you are helping to make the world a better place. You are helping victims get compensated for their injuries and helping to ensure that accidents don’t reoccur.
For more information watch Brenda Hollingsworth discuss the topic of being a good witness on CTV Morning Live.
If you know someone who has suffered a personal injury tell them to talk with the personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth in Ottawa at 613-233-4529. For more information order the book the Injured Victim’s Guide to Fair Compensation.