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Been asked to provide a witness statement

(34 Posts)
Noodoodle Fri 27-Jan-17 14:15:35

Last year I witnessed a collision between a car and a bus. The car driver was clearly at fault, and when the driver got off he looked quite shaken. As I was very close by and passengers were mostly trying to shout or complain about what they were going to do now, I asked if he was ok, and decided that it would be a good idea to give my details as I witnessed but couldn't stop at the time. I don't know if that was a good thing, stupid or what, but I did.

Anyway, I've now gotten a letter from a solicitors asking for a witness statement. It basically says
"I, noodoodle, will say as follows" then asks what happened, when, who did what, who I think is to blame, etc. At the end it says "I believe the facts stated in this witness statement are true". In capitals for emphasis... what is this for, for insurance or comp for the driver of the bus, or for a case going to court? It doesn't say, does anyone know? I don't know why but thinking it is for court and maybe I would have to say it, freaks me out, I'm quite shy and...just the thought fills me with dread actually. Never had something like this before.

hmcAsWas Fri 27-Jan-17 14:17:40

It may go to court (if insurance companies remain in dispute) - but most likely as a written statement; you are unlikely to be asked to make an appearance

WowOoo Fri 27-Jan-17 14:20:15

I had to provide a witness statement, but never went to court. I just had to fill out a form. Don't stress about it as the chances are it won't happen. If it does go to court, you may not even have to go.

Witchend Fri 27-Jan-17 14:20:52

I had one for a car accident I'd witnessed a few weeks ago. It was for insurance purposes.
I just wrote down as much detail as I could about the accident, including probably some quite irrelevant stuff.

It did ask if you'd be willing to go to court.

Noodoodle Fri 27-Jan-17 14:21:57

Hmm ok thanks, I just wondered as it also asks my address and occupation. I've just noticed the tag line for the solicitors "helping injured people", must be for injury then I suppose.

Noodoodle Fri 27-Jan-17 14:23:02

Oh, Witchend, this doesn't ask about being willing to go to court. That's positive then, I didn't think they'd ask.

Reow Fri 27-Jan-17 14:25:45

I worked in insurance for 8 years. You may be asked but it's unlikely you would be forced to go to court. They rarely get that far when coach companies were involved.

Didn't the coach have cctv? They mostly do now.

2410ang Fri 27-Jan-17 14:28:07

It is from Solicitors. They will use in support of their Client (I would've clear about who they are representing, bus or car driver). They will want to send it to the other party involved's insurance company.

If there is a disagreement between them it may go to a Court Hearing and you may be asked to attend to give evidence.

It's not scary like on TV smile

HTH but feel free to PM me if you want any further info.

By the way, the capitals bit at the end is a 'statement of truth'. They should have explained the consequences of signing such a statement to you. I.E if you give a statement you know to be untrue then you can be prosecuted.

jerryfudd Fri 27-Jan-17 14:28:17

If it's as clear cut as you say, your statement should assist them in sorting the liability element without the need for court. The other driver or his insurers are probably pushing their luck disputing they were responsible hoping it will be one word against other and thus settle 50/50 or something. Your statement could possibly put an end to that. If they don't agree on damages and it still needs to go you won't be needed as you can only give evidence as to what happened ie liability.

BToperator Fri 27-Jan-17 14:28:29

It is certainly not for criminal court, as the wording is different. I'm not sure about how civil courts work though.

Downstairspoo Fri 27-Jan-17 14:29:33

It's potentially for court proceedings of the case doesn't settle but the vast majority cases settle before trial and often without any proceedings being issued. You'd only be asked to give oral evidence at a trial if something in your witness statement was confusing or contradicted with another witness.
If it did come to a trial it wouldn't have to be read out in full by you, you'd just be asked if the contents were true and asked a couple of questions to clarify whatever the lawyers thought was confusing/unclear/clear up contradictions between witnesses. They should be polite to you as you're helping the court sort out the truth.

Please don't not give a witness statement because you are shy. It's a civic duty really to help the injuried parties sort out who was at fault and get appropriate compensation.

OurBlanche Fri 27-Jan-17 14:29:39

I gave a witness statement to police and 2 insurance agencies. The case went to court, twice, and my written statements were used, I wasn't even contacted again, though I know the driver was done by the police for drink driving and one of the insurance companies for insurance fraud. All my statements included that sentence about being willing to go to court.

It asks about yoru address and occupation so that theycan check youa re who you say you are, and that you are a 'fit and trustworthy witness'

Just do the right thing and don't worry about it.

barinatxe Fri 27-Jan-17 14:29:44

It's unlikely to go to court - the statement is for the insurers / solicitors to be able to apportion blame.

I may be wrong but a request from a solicitor is not the same as a request from the police. I witnessed a collision a few years ago and was asked to provide a statement by the police - the language used was exactly the same wording as you described above. I provided a statement and never heard from them again.

A solicitor cannot compel you to attend court as a witness. We don't have the same right to silence as the Americans but we are not obliged to make a statement.

But in any case I think you should make the statement. Stick to the facts, tell them what you saw. Be very clear in your mind - if you cannot remember something, don't guess. You say the car driver was "clearly at fault" - you don't need to express opinions in this statement, just the facts as you see them. The wording they use is to signify that anything you do say must be the truth as you remember it. Perhaps your memory is wrong but that does not matter provided that you believe it to be true.

nocake Fri 27-Jan-17 14:31:22

I had to fill one in for an accident that I saw. It was used by the insurance company to sort who was paying.

Well done for stopping and giving your details. It makes it so much easier for everyone if there's an independent witness.

welovepancakes Fri 27-Jan-17 14:40:40

A solicitor cannot compel you to attend court as a witness I'm sure that's not correct. Surely they can issue a witness citation to require you to attend, if it comes to that (which it hardly ever does)

I would complete it & remember to keep a copy to refresh your memory later if required

welovepancakes Fri 27-Jan-17 14:41:48

.... and asking for your address may be partly to check that you don't live with one of the parties, in which case you could still be a witness, but your evidence might carry less weight, as you aren't independent

Noodoodle Fri 27-Jan-17 14:42:12

Thank you for the replies.

Jerryfudd it's definitely clear cut, but I suspect the car was stolen so I don't know if that changes anything. Driver disappeared after grabbing his belongings.

Reow the bus has cctv but I don't know what would show, the car came from front/side .

2410ang thanks. It's solicitors for the bus driver.

Downstairspoo barinatxe nocake thanks, I will send it. I just honestly felt compelled to try and help as the poor bus driver couldn't have done anything to prevent it.

EweAreHere Fri 27-Jan-17 14:42:22

Just fill it out and say exactly what you saw.

Wouldn't you want a witness to do that for you if you were in an accident that wasn't your fault and the other driver was trying to deny blame?

wasonthelist Fri 27-Jan-17 14:46:26

I have done this a few times for people - had similar paperwork, never been asked to court. You are doing a good thing OP.

Noodoodle Fri 27-Jan-17 14:48:01

Yes absolutely....That's what I said to my dd when she asked why I stopped. If something happened to her I would want someone who witnessed to do the same and help. Ahh it just makes me nervous but I know it's right.

CatWithKittens Fri 27-Jan-17 14:50:07

I agree that people have a public duty to help in the administration of justice. I also agree that the chances are it will not get to Court. You can be compelled to go to Court by a witness summons or order but it is unlikely that any party would compel you without knowing what you are going to say - it is too dangerous for their case. However as PPs have said we could any of us need independent witnesses and you would be doing a public service in helping sort out the truth, as well, potentially, as reducing stress and anxiety to the parties involved, to say nothing of costs and so not adding to increases in insurance premiums.

PyongyangKipperbang Fri 27-Jan-17 14:52:23

I had to do this. I filled it in and sent it back and got a letter saying that the case was scheduled for X date in court. Then about a week before (after I had sorted childcare hmm) I got a call from the solicitors to say that the other side had settled out of court and I wouldnt need to attend. They had warned me that that would probably happen but I needed to be prepared to go anyway.

S1lentAllTheseYears Fri 27-Jan-17 15:01:38

Please do give your statement as I imagine both drivers have given very different stories to their insurers and an independent witness statement can help sort out who is telling the truth.

Someone ran into me several years ago but told a very different story about who was on the road where and, long story short, it went 50/50 which was totally unfair! A woman did stop at the time for which I am very grateful as the other driver was yelling at me and she managed to calm the situation a bit but, although she gave me her details, she never responded to the request for a witness statement and it would have really helped me if she had.

I understand your anxiety as I would feel the same but you will really help the bus driver by doing it.

TheOtherGalen Fri 27-Jan-17 15:04:08

You'll be fine. They're not expecting you to produce a perfectly-worded piece of literary legalese. All you have to do is tell the truth about what you saw, in your own natural words. You sound like a good egg who will have no problem doing the right thing. Good on you for being willing to speak up.

7SunshineSeven7 Fri 27-Jan-17 15:05:07

I know its for the bus driver but no matter who its for you should send it with the facts because it will go one of two ways:

If its for the bus driver: It will help support his claim for injury/prevent loss of his job (if that's what its about).

If its for the driver: Will show they are making false claims and the insurance company will not pursue the bus driver and will charge them for time used (when I made a claim they made it clear if I was lying they would charge me personally for hourly work e.g £300 odd each hour they'd spend on my case).

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