Any list of instructions for those involved in an auto accident should mention that the driver ought to get the names and contact information for any witnesses. Claims adjusters are aware of the guidance given to potential plaintiffs. Hence, none of them would hesitate to ask for a witness’ name and contact information. Should you give it to that particular adjuster?
Do not hide possession of such valuable evidence
Before the start of the negotiating process, the injury lawyer of the plaintiff in Richmond Hill must send a demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company. It helps to mention the observations made by witnesses in that same letter. In fact, the person writing that letter might want to share much of what has been expressed in the witness’ statement.
What can happen if a plaintiff refuses to share the information on the witnesses?
The adjuster will not look kindly at an effort to keep such information away from his or her eyes. The plaintiff could be charged with an unreasonable lack of cooperation. Once hit with such a charge, the charged plaintiff can be expected to struggle for assurance of a sizeable award, following settlement of the submitted claim.
Mention of witnesses alerts the adjuster to the plaintiff’s possession of valuable evidence. At the same time it invites the adjuster’s inquiry, regarding the witness’ name and contact information. Normally, a plaintiff shares the witness’ information with the adjuster. Still, any witness has the right to ask that his or her identity not be shared with the person that hears or reads the reported statement.
Every witness has one other right and several additional options, as well
• The right to refuse to speak to the insurance company, unless issued a subpoena
• The option of agreeing to contact the adjuster, rather than waiting to be contacted
• The option of declining to give a written statement
• Optional choice regarding how interviewed: Can ask to provide written statement, specifying no interview
• A second optional choice with respect to the interview: Can ask that the interview not be recorded.
• Can decline to sign any settlement paper that has been created by the adjuster
• Can decline to return to the scene of the accident with the adjuster
• Can withhold personal information without being penalized and without subjecting plaintiff to a penalty
• Can refuse to share information a second time in a repeat interview
Witnesses should be encouraged to use their options
If a witness were to give a written statement, in addition to an oral one, or were to state all the shared information a second time, there might be some inconsistencies in the offered statements. An adjuster could seize on those inconsistencies and use them to weaken the plaintiff’s case.