When a police officer arrives at the scene of the car crash, she or he will want to gather as much information as possible, but first, the police officer will want to ensure that everyone has been moved out of harm’s way. Once the accident area has been cleared or blockades have been set up to prevent motorists from being harmed further by oncoming traffic, the police at the scene will be interested in gathering preliminary information. Then, the police officer typically will ask a car accident witness questions that get at whether one or more of the parties involved in the collision may be criminally responsible, and whether any citations should be issued.
Anyone who has witnessed an accident should be prepared for some of the following types of questions from a police officer.
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The location of the accident is an important part of the preliminary information a police officer will want to gather, as well as learning about the witness’s location at the time of the crash. It will also be important for law enforcement officials to learn the exact time of the collision and may ask questions that help to determine whether the witness can pinpoint an exact time.
Determining if inclement weather caused or contributed to the crash can help the police to decide whether a ticket or citation, or even an arrest, is necessary. In seeking fault—or lack thereof—the police also may inquire about the road conditions and any other factors that could have contributed to the crash that were outside the control of the motorists involved in the collision.
The witness may be in a better position to tell the police about the number of vehicles involved in the crash, and to clarify whether anyone left the scene of the accident before law enforcement officials arrived.
A police officer will want a witness to clarify whether she or he actually witnessed the actual crash occur, or whether the witness came to the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred (for instance, if the witness came outside from a nearby home or business establishment after hearing the sound of the collision).
Determining where the witness was at the time of the crash can help the police to decide whether the witness’s observations are trustworthy, and whether the witness actually had a good vantage point from which to observe the area where the collision occurred. Knowing where the witness was can also help the police to know if the witness is reliable based on the types of observations she or he recounts in relation to his or her stated location.
When the police are interviewing a witness, the witness should also anticipate being observed for signs of intoxication, shock, and other states that could lead to a less reliable witness statement. Witnesses should speak as clearly and precisely as they can, and they should provide the facts that they know from observing the accident or the scene. Our top rated Las Vegas car accident attorney can discuss the implications of giving a statement to the police.
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