In the event of a car accident, a witness can sometimes make all the difference in your personal injury claim. The time immediately following an accident is often disorienting or full of emotion. It's easy to forget there are likely people watching, and people willing to say what happened.

How a Witness Can Make a Difference

Your potential case doesn't have to go all the way to a trial for a witness to make a difference. Just having the name and contact information of a witness or two can help you and your car accident attorney. Your lawyer can use it to pressure the insurance company into a settlement.

In many accidents, it can come down to what you say against what the other person says. Witnesses can corroborate what you say and turn your single voice into two or more. This all goes towards lessening your "burden of proof."

If you have a case that does go to trial, then having witnesses becomes even more of a help. If they're willing to give a statement or disposition, it can help prove that you're innocent of any wrongdoing. Even if you have a partial fault in the accident, a witness can help lower your percentage of fault.

Take a Look around You

People aren't always willing to speak, no matter what it is they witness. But it doesn't hurt to ask either. Always look around after an accident. Often, there are people already there that had to stop their vehicles because of the accident.

A good time to approach people is after you exchange information with the other driver, and while you wait for the police to arrive. Stationary drivers are always a good source. They're already there, they already saw the accident, and really many are glad to volunteer their information.

Occasionally, someone may even approach you on their own. Accidents attract people; that's why it's good to gather contact information before the police arrive if possible. Those people you see immediately after the accident are more likely to have seen the actual incident. People who start arriving after the fact cannot help you.

What Do You Say?

Not everybody has it in them to walk up to strangers and ask them for contact information, but there's really nothing to it. You should ask if they saw what happened. If they reply in the affirmative, ask if they are willing to give you their contact information, or give it to the police when they arrive.

If you're injured then the first order of business is to seek medical attention. If you are with someone, ask them to try to gather witness information. If you can, contact someone you know close by who can come to the scene and try to gather contact information.

Gathering witnesses is only a part of the larger process of evidence collection. If you do manage to pick up witnesses, then you should definitely let your accident attorney know when you call about your potential case. They can use the contact information when they're in the process of gathering all the facts for you.