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Old 09-09-2008, 09:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Witness to Accident

For the second time in the last few years, I witnessed a serious accident tonight. In both cases, I kept going but considered stopping, talking to the drivers and making myself available as a witness. Nah. I kept going.

What are your thoughts about volunteering to be a witness to an accident?

I'll start with the one tonight. It was about 11:00 p.m. and I was driving home on the Northern State Parkway. Its a nice road for a Lotus, especially at that hour, because its got lots of curves and there's very little traffic so you can pretty much go as fast as you like. I was doing about 65 m.p.h. There were signs about an accident ahead and saying there would be congestion. Sure enough, starting at a certain point, the traffic was going at a crawl. There were two lanes. I was in the left lane crawling, maybe 6m.p.h. As far as I could see ahead, the traffic was crawling.

Suddenly, I hear a screech of tires and then see and hear a car going very fast slamming into a car in the right lane. It was probably doing 60m.p.h. before slamming on the brakes. The speeding car careened into the left lane and stopped. I was directly behind it. Both cars were wrecked. They blocked the road and I was the first car behind them. I noticed the two drivers out of their cars talking to each other. Fortunately, neither appeared to be seriously hurt. I thought of getting out and talking to them but also thought they might be highly charged up and might endanger me if I joined them. I also thought that without any witnesses, the car with the wrecked front end would be found at fault and the car with the wrecked rear end would be exonerated. Then I saw, in my rear view mirror, a police car with lights flashing. I thought the situation would do fine without me so I pulled up on the right, which was grassy, passed them and came home.

The previous accident was on the Long Island Expressway about 5 years ago, long before I got a Lotus. I saw an SUV cutting across several lanes to make an exit at Willets Pt. Blvd. A car in the right lane of the LIJ hit it. The SUV driver misjudged and clipped a curb. The SUV flipped over and landed upside down. I saw the driver fall from the top of the SUV, which was the bottom, down to the roof. He might have been seriously injured. I don't know.

I was on my way to an appointment and didn't want to be late. Also, I was nowhere near a phone. When I got to my appointment, somewhere in New Jersey, I called 911. They weren't interested but told me to go to the precinct that had jurisdiction over that area. I called them and they referred me to a station that handled accidents. I went there but they told me they only take reports on weekdays. I don't remember what happened next.

So, are there any thoughts on getting involved as a witness?
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Most people I know won't serve as a witness because a) you have to give all of your information to the police (i.e. employer, employer's phone number, your weight, height, driver's license and a billion of other pieces of personal information) and b) no one wants to take off from work to appear in court if it goes to trial. I was at a car shop in a sketchy neighborhood and witnessed an accident and no joke people literally ran and ducked into buildings when the cops showed up because no one wanted to be a witness. (I had run over to one of the drivers hit just to make sure she was okay but several people actually yelled out to me "don't touch her! you'll be sued!") When I asked some of the guys why they didn't want to be witnesses they gave the reasons: because they had other arrests on their records, don't trust police, and illegal immigration status. I was waiting for my car to be ready at the shop and was watching the police secure the scene, and they were laughing about how no one ever wants to be a witness.
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I ALWAYS stay to be a witness. It's only right.

Many years ago, I was involved in a wreck. Some guy ran a red light and I T-boned is passenger side. By the time the police arrived (about 45 minutes later) several of his neighborhood friends stopped by to tell him that they'd swear that it was my fault.

But The guy behind me in traffic stayed and talked to the police. He explained what happened, and the cops took his story above the others. If it wasn't for him, I would have been found at fault.

I couple of years ago, I was again hit by someone. It was snowing and the road was slick. I was going through an intersection and the other car came sliding up the right turn lane (cross traffic to me). She slid right into the intersection and into the front of my truck. Of the 20 or so people that were waiting at the lights and had a clear view of the wreck, not one came forward as a witness. When it was all over, the insurance companies worked out the deal that we were equally at fault and I ended up having to pay the deductible.

In all the time over the years that I have given my information (I've witnessed quite a few wrecks), the most that was ever asked of me was an insurance company calling me up to ask me the details of what I witnessed.

I ALWAYS volunteer to be a witness - it's only right.
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Old 09-10-2008, 10:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Want an answer, here ya go. Ask yourself this, if you were in an accident and you knew there were witnessess who could help, would you want them to step up and speak about what they saw? Especially if you are in need of those witnessess.
It's a question of moral responsibility. Grow up.
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Old 09-10-2008, 10:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I seem to have a knack for seeing cars hit in parking lots. I've probably left a dozen notes with the individual's license plate and make/model that hit the car and my contact info. I've only gotten a few calls asking for more information. If someone hit me and fled the scene, I'd sure want to know who did it. Clams aren't cheap.
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
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As time goes on, I see more and more people doing less and less for one another. Its very sad. I personally have never been in a situation where I was needed to be witness. If the time comes, I will do so just for the fact that I feel the need to look out for my fellow people. Hope someone will do the same for me. These are hard times. Lets look out for one another.

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Old 09-10-2008, 11:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimMullen View Post
I ALWAYS stay to be a witness. It's only right.....

In all the time over the years that I have given my information (I've witnessed quite a few wrecks), the most that was ever asked of me was an insurance company calling me up to ask me the details of what I witnessed.

I ALWAYS volunteer to be a witness - it's only right.
+1

Same thing here, the insurance company called me to ask what happened it was very easy and only a few minutes.. if you see something like that, stick around, sometimes your story makes a BIG difference.
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have stuck around to be a witness four times that I can recall, one serious accidents and three small accidents. I have been called to testify zero times. If someone slams into me and it is their fault I would hope someone would step up and be a witness, otherwise I may be placed in a situation that would not only leave me without the car, but also increase insurance rates for years. People do not take a stand with a simple car accident, and yet complain about the state of the world. To me it is not a mystery, we call it diffusion of responsibility. The more people around, the less likely any one of them is going to do a thing to help.
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Personally, I always stick around if I clearly saw the event/accident. Good samaritan laws are there to provide protection from being sued.
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I was behind a step van that rear ended a car at an intersection and took off. I followed him and got his plate number and gave it to the cops.

Another time a car ahead of the car in front of me drifted off the road and into the ditch where the front of the car dug in sending the rear end skyward resulted in a spectaculer spinning flip. It was truly awesome. I stopped and the driver was a little shook up but ok. Since there were about 6 other people that stopped and the cops are on the way I took off.

So, yeah, I stop.
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:00 PM   #11 (permalink)
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How does the expression go? Do unto others as you would like them to do to you. If you were in an accident (and weren't at fault), would you want witnesses to come forward?
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I would stop and have in the past.

Was not that big of a deal but had to give a sworn deposition.

I would do it again.

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Old 09-10-2008, 12:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I was witness to 2 hit and runs within 3 months of each other a couple years back. Wound up going to court 3 times for the second one. I will ALWAYS be a witness if it is a hit and run. If there are other witnesses and both parties stick around, I might consider going along my merry way.
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Do the right thing...

My wife and I were test driving a car three weeks ago, and came up right behind an accident, happening right in front of us. A woman pulled into a divided thoroughfare, with no care to who was coming. A delivery truck swerved to avoid her, and took the mirror off a third car. The truck kept moving - it is possible he did not know he had made contact with the third car. We chased him down, let him know what had happened (and that we had witnessed it) and followed the truck back to the accident, where the woman at fault was already exchanging info with the victim. I checked in with the victim, and left my contact info, and made sure she got the license info from the truck driver. Net result - a woman who might have been SOL got the info she needed to have her car repaired, and we felt better about doing the right thing. I'd sure hope someone would do the same for me.
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Only seen 1 accident in which I was able to stop. Was a witness and it wasn't much of a hastle other than the 30 minute stop and 1 call from the insurance company a month later. It's not much of a hastle and can clear the innocent, worth it in my opinion
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Old 09-10-2008, 01:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Kaliuzhkin View Post
Nah. I kept going.
When you rear-end somebody who has swerved into your lane from the next lane over, and then swears that they were driving in your lane all along, I'm sure you'll appreciate all the witnesses who just keep on driving. Karma's a bitch.

I'll always stop. I don't always hang around to see if the police show up or not, but I do give my business card with my phone number. I've never had any hassle just an occasional phone call with an insurance company or being asked to fill out a one page form.
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Old 09-10-2008, 01:43 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I've always avoided being a witness but this has shed light onto the subject. I think I'll try it if I have the opportunity.
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Old 09-10-2008, 01:50 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Put me in the "stop and be a witness" category as well. In two cases I never did hear anything.

The third was apparently well contested. So the "bad experience" I had was:

* after everyone was okay, I gave a business card to the party I thought was the "injured" party.

* about 2 months later I had a 10 minute chat with an investigator

* about 8 months later an investigator can out to my home (at a time I set to be convenient to me) and we reviewed what I'd said originally and what I'd seen.

* about a week later they set up a time for a notary public to come to my house and witness me signing a document that covered what we'd talked about previously.

And it was most definitely one of those situations where, without witnesses, the "injured" party would have been blamed by default.

Like others have said, I'd hope others would do the same for me.

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Old 09-10-2008, 01:59 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I like to be a good neighbor. Why not?
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Old 09-10-2008, 02:11 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcnohead View Post
As time goes on, I see more and more people doing less and less for one another. Its very sad. I personally have never been in a situation where I was needed to be witness. If the time comes, I will do so just for the fact that I feel the need to look out for my fellow people. Hope someone will do the same for me. These are hard times. Lets look out for one another.

0.02
Ain't that the truth.

It's despicable how people are now in days.

About a month or so ago..and I believe it was in New Jersey; this was on the news and they actually had footage of this by a surveillance camera.

It's the afternoon and plenty of people walking on both sides of the sidewalk when a guy crosses the street and along comes a car and hits him. The guy flies in the air, hits the ground hard and then lay motionless for not 1, 2, 5 or 10 minutes but for 15 minutes minimum You can see people just walking by, cars driving around and people going about their business with absolutely no one laying a finger to even make a phone call It made me sick to my stomach and it's no wonder some people love their pets more than humans...still makes me sick just talking about it Luckily, the guy survived but will need some major rehab, both physically and mentally.
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