ClickCease Questions You Should Ask Witnesses at the Scene of an Accident

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The Most Important Questions You Should Ask Witnesses After an Accident

Seth Harris

Last modified on February 20, 2023

After an accident, your first thought is likely not about how to best prepare yourself for potential legal action. However, the way you respond immediately after the accident can have a huge impact on your potential to collect compensation for injuries later on. After making sure your health is taken care of and calling the police, you should try to ask any witnesses at the accident scene a few important questions.

Witnesses at the SceneAn eyewitness can provide valuable evidence after an accident. Their statements to law enforcement officers or the insurance company might support your version of events or establish someone else is at fault for your injuries. Asking witnesses the right questions is essential to obtaining the information you need to strengthen your case. You must phrase each question correctly and avoid saying something that might skew your statements in the other party’s favor. You also don’t want to appear to be leading the witness to make statements in your favor.

Here are the questions you should ask eyewitnesses at the scene of an accident.

Can You Explain What Happened in Your Own Words?

Asking an eyewitness to tell you how the accident occurred in their own words can eliminate confusion about the details. Instead of asking pointed questions to steer them toward a story that matches yours, the question prompts them to discuss what they recall. In this way, you can discover whether their account matches yours and establishes a narrative.

Where Were You at the Time of the Accident?

You should always ask where the witness was when the accident happened. Sometimes, witnesses are directly next to the scene. Other times, they’re standing hundreds of feet away or behind something obstructing their view. Asking where they were allows you to determine whether they clearly saw what happened.

What Did You Do in the Aftermath of the Accident?

You could gain insight into the eyewitness’s perceptions about the severity of the incident. Asking them what they did immediately afterward will indicate what they think occurred.

If they thought it was a severe accident that probably caused injuries, they might have called 911 and rushed over to assist the victims. However, if they stayed in one place to watch what occurred next, it likely means they thought it was a minor incident.

Did You Hear Anyone’s Conversations After the Accident?

Sometimes, eyewitnesses hear comments or conversations that can benefit the accident victim’s claim. Asking what they heard other people say immediately after the incident might provide helpful information. For example, a witness might have heard the other person involved in the accident saying it was their fault.

Was Someone With You at the Time of the Incident?

You should ask the witness if someone else was with them when the accident occurred. That can lead to additional eyewitnesses who can provide statements to the insurance company or police. They might also be able to testify in court if you file a lawsuit. When multiple witnesses tell the same story, denying liability is more challenging.

Do You Know Anyone Involved in the Accident?

This question is crucial because it determines whether bias contributes to the witness’s statements. They might lie or exaggerate their story if they know the victim. Someone without any connection to the parties to the accident is more likely to provide an honest account of the events.

Where Were You Going When You Noticed the Accident?

Witnesses at the Scene of an AccidentAsking the witness where they were going during the accident determines more than their direction of travel, whether walking or driving. It paints a picture of what they might have been doing when the incident occurred.

If a witness was rushing to work, worrying about being late might have distracted them from noticing the accident until after it had already happened. They might not have seen the events leading up to the incident or who might be responsible.

Can I Get Your Name and Phone Number?

Before leaving the accident scene, you must ask each witness for their name and contact information. You need a way of getting in touch with them for more information or directing the insurance company their way for a statement.

You should also confirm whether they are willing to provide a statement to the police or insurance carrier and testify on your behalf if you must take your case to court. Knowing you have someone to back up your claims about what happened is beneficial.

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After an accident, it is always in your best interest to consult a personal injury lawyer. Even if you don’t have a case, it doesn’t cost you anything to get a professional opinion as most personal injury lawyers, including the attorneys of [firm-name], work on contingency – we never charge anything up-front.

Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb has represented New York clients since 1997. Our team of attorneys, investigators, paralegals, and experts work together on each case we take to achieve a favorable and exemplary result. We can pursue compensation for your injuries and advocate for you throughout your case.

If you sustained injuries in an accident that someone else caused, call 800-PAIN-LAW or dial #PAIN for a consultation today.

Over $500 Million in Verdicts and Settlements

Our track record showcases over $500 million won for our clients. Each victory underlines our commitment to justice and client care. Explore our impact, case by case.

VERDICT

$17,500,000

A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.

VERDICT

$4,730,398

Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).

VERDICT

$12,561,772

A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.

VERDICT

$10,500,000

A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.

VERDICT

$4,000,000

A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.

VERDICT

$3,470,670

The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.

VERDICT

$4,000,000

The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.

VERDICT

$3,823,000

Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.

VERDICT

$2,750,000

The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.

VERDICT

$1,677,835

The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.

VERDICT

$2,995,000

The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.

VERDICT

$2,610,000

A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.

VERDICT

$2,253,714

A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.

VERDICT

$1,900,000

A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.

VERDICT

$1,350,000

A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

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Horrible people. I lost complete confidence in this firm. Attorneys dragged their feet for 4 years and my mom died before a settlement could be reached. I advised them several times that my mom was sick to put fire under their feet but the effort was to no avail.
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Gene Matos (fanboye)Gene Matos (fanboye)
18:48 15 Jan 24
I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
Solange IsaacSolange Isaac
17:52 08 Jan 24
I am pleased with the services provided by Ms Sheri on my case. The team at Harris, Keenan, & Goldfarb were very nice and explained everything to me. Everything that I had questions on they answered without frustration and were prompt and knowledgeable.6 years ago I had a slip and fall accident at my employers place of business. I reached out to them because I knew that I was being wrongfully treated. They took care of the case, restored my self confidence, and brought so much peace to my problem riddled life.I can recommend without a shadow of a doubt the services of Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb to anyone who is in need of someone who will have your back!
Brittany DempseyBrittany Dempsey
16:02 08 Jan 24
My mother had an accident with her ankle back in 2019. I immediately contacted Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb on the day of the accident. They were extremely prompt and helpful. They attended to my mother's case beautifully and she's been recovering well. I'd like to thank you for being so diligent, kind and above all professional. I'd recommend this law firm to anyone who are injured and in need of legal assistance. My mother, Andrea, and I thank you for everything.
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