I just witnessed an accident. What do I do?
The first thing to do, if you think people might be seriously injured, would be to call the emergency services and dial 9-1-1.
If you have first aid or medical training and you feel you might be able to help until the emergency services arrive on scene, you can also consider offering help to the persons involved.
What you saw and what you witness on how the events unfold might be of use to the persons involved, either for insurance claims or for damages litigation later on. Keep in mind that litigation and witness interviews can happen several years after the accident, so you might only receive a call 2, 3 or 4 years after the accident. Any accident does not mean automatic litigation either.
How can I report what I saw?
There are two ways you can report what you saw: one is by talking to the police officers if they are present on the scene of the accident. The second is by leaving your coordinates with the persons involved. You are under no obligation to do it, but it helps everyone reconstructing and understanding what happened and how it happened.
Does that mean I will go to court?
Going to court is not automatic. Most claims and suits are settled outside of court, after a negotiation and agreement between everyone involved. It is rare, but not impossible that a claim will be heard by a judge in a courthouse. Therefore, gathering all the information available is important: it helps the negotiation and the resolution of the suit before it goes to court.
Witnesses are neutral people who are there to tell what they saw and heard. They are not “for” or “against” someone.
Do I have to talk to their lawyers?
This is entirely your choice. You can decide to talk to none of them, all of them or some of them. However, always make sure to know who you are talking to. Do not hesitate to ask the person to repeat their name and who they work for or ask more questions to understand their role in the process.
If you or someone you know has been in a car accident contact the lawyers at Burn Tucker Lachaîne today for a free consultation.
By Catherine Dion-Gagnon of Burn Tucker Lachaîne Personal Injury Lawyers
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