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Rick Shapiro
Rick Shapiro
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Finding Independent Witnesses to Interview Immediately After an Accident Is Critical

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An article written by my law partner John Cooper talks about the importance of finding and talking with key independent witnesses in the context of car/truck cases and premises liability/slip and fall cases. It highlights the investigation that can make the difference in getting the best possible result.

Whenever the person at fault in causing an accident can try to get out of it by saying that they weren’t at fault they, their attorney, or their insurance company will likely try to do so. So any case that is a he said/she said type of case can turn into a big problem and a bad result in a jury trial as the defense lawyer will try to say that the injured party is a liar who shouldn’t be believed in part just because they’re making an injury claim. That attack on your credibility is definitely not the way you want to end your lawsuit.

Rather the best thing is to find independent witnesses who can verify what happened in the accident as soon as possible. Then, the case will likely result in a favorable settlement before a lawsuit is even filed because the insurance claims representative will realize that the injured person has someone with no axe to grind backing up their case and the facts of what happened. This is yet another reason why you should find the best available, experienced injury lawyer as soon as possible after you’re hurt to make sure someone gets out there and does the investigation work necessary to locate and secure such witnesses. Often if it isn’t done soon after the accident the witness may not be fresh in their recollection, may move and not be locatable, or otherwise end up not being able to help. This need to find the key witnesses and interview them is especially true in Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) cases involving railroad workers who get hurt on the job. As soon as an injury is reported the railroad’s legal department, medical department and claims department will be looking for ways to try to beat the injured worker’s case. To balance the playing field you need an experienced F.E.L.A. lawyer with lots of good contacts among railroaders to be able to get in touch with and develop evidence from witnesses confirming what happened. Because of our experience in railroad on duty injury claims and our network of investigators who are ex-railroad workers we are in the best position possible to find these witnesses and ask the key questions to show that the railroad did something wrong to cause the accident and that the worker was free from fault. A local injury lawyer without extensive F.E.L.A. law experience will not know how to get access to these witnesses nor what to ask to establish the key issues of good railroading practice. In the case of an engineer being hurt it may be that the conductor on the same job is the one who you need to speak to. In the case of a maintenance of way worker like the trackman who gets injured it may be the co-worker on the same gang who is a machine operator. Whatever the situation, the key is to get in touch with these men and get them to confirm what really happened before the railroad calls them in and intimidates them into not remembering what happened.

Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is: hsinjurylaw.com, the firm edits two injury law blogs: Virginia Beach Injuryboard & Norfolk Injuryboard, and also hosts a video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects.