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Get the Witness Name and Phone Number

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who indicated that a nice young man came up to her car right after the crash and asked if she was okay. He even stayed with her until the ambulance came. She thinks he was in the vehicle behind her and saw the whole crash. She thought that he would be named on the police report, but after she got out of the hospital, she saw that there was no information about a witness on the report. She wanted to know what could be done to try to locate the witness.

This type of situation is one that attorneys all too frequently encounter.

All too often, people who witness a crash will come to the aid of a crash victim, but they don’t give their name and phone number to the police officer. Or the police officer is too busy and fails to take down the person’s name or number. Sometimes though, we find that the officer does have information on the witness. Still, that info didn’t make it to the official report.

We’ve had callers who have information that will help identify a witness just like this caller. This caller knew what the person looked like and remembered that they were very kind and helpful. But, she just doesn’t have a name, phone number, or license plate number.

In the past, attorneys would place an ad in the local newspaper, hoping that a witness might read it and come forward. That worked only about 15% of the time. But few people read newspapers today as they did in the past.

It is possible with social media to post something to one of the social media outlets and hope it will be seen. But that’s not often a good bet.

Sometimes attorneys will go to news reporters to see if a reporter was contacted about a crash or came to the scene to take photos or investigate the collision. If you’re lucky and a news reporter does have the information it will give you a lead to help track down the mysterious witness.

The lesson in all of this, though, is that it really pays to get a person’s name and number following a motor vehicle collision, if you can.

Sometimes an injury victim just simply doesn’t have the presence of mind to ask for a phone number or name. But we always encourage people to do it and get into the habit of thinking about doing it just if they become crash victims.

It doesn’t take much to get the information. It would be easy to ask the witness to speak their information into a recording to be kept on the phone with a smartphone. Or to type it into your phone for you. Or you could even change contact information between your phone and the witness’s phone. Or here’s an idea, ask the person to write their info down on a piece of scrap paper.

Sometimes, an attorney will canvass the neighborhood where the crash occurred and find a security camera that captured some part of the collision and might lead to a license number. Or, we might find someone who saw the crash and saw the witness and knows the witness.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”