When you discovered a dangerous patch of ice by slipping and falling on it, you were probably preoccupied with your pain, your fear, and your struggle to get to your feet. You may not have been looking around to see if you had an audience. Even if someone came to help you, you might feel like you don’t want to impose on them by asking if you can use them as a witness, should you need to pursue a personal injury claim.
In reality, though, having a witness on your side can strengthen your slip and fall on ice claim considerably, and it doesn’t require that much time or effort on the part of the other person. Don’t be afraid to ask someone who saw or heard the accident, or the aftermath of it, to be a witness. You just need three things from them:
- Their name. It might sound like a given, but you want to make sure you record the name of your witness. Insurance companies don’t want to pay any more than they absolutely have to on claims, so they will look for any way to deny the claim or decrease the payout – including dismissing your witness as fictional. Making sure you know the witness’s name rather than referring to him or her as a passerby supports your assertion that the witness is a real person.
- Their contact information. Phone numbers, addresses, email addresses – whatever the witness is willing to provide. The more information you have, the better. Remember, the insurance company will want proof that your witness is a real person, so you want them to be able to contact this witness if necessary.
- Their statement. It may seem like a lot to ask at the moment – both from the witness and from yourself, when you’re still in pain – but request that any witnesses write down what they saw now, while the accident is still fresh in their minds. Offer to write it for them, if they prefer that and you’re up to it. Either way, have the witnesses sign the paper containing their statements if possible. The point is that you want to get this information now. As time goes by, witnesses’ memories of the incident will fade, especially because unlike you, they don’t have to live with the consequences of the fall daily.