After an auto collision, you must make a statement to the police describing the details of the incident. However, in the moments following an accident, nerves, fear and shock can cause people to forget important facts. If you had to seek medical care after the accident and the police took your statement when you were in the hospital, the chances that your statement was incomplete or inaccurate are even higher. This is especially true if you were under the influence of pain medication.
It’s very common for people to later remember details they did not recall at the time of the crash, or to remember the details differently. This can add to your stress following an accident.
If you are seeking legal action against the driver who caused your accident, you might worry that remembering details of the accident differently down the road could cause you to lose your case. Will your attorney think you’re lying? Will the attorney representing the at-fault driver use this as a way to prove you’re wrong or unreliable? Could you receive less compensation?
Here’s what you need to know:
Talk to your attorney
If you feel you made a statement to the police following the accident that’s not entirely accurate, call your attorney immediately to discuss the matter. He or she can look at the police report and go over the details you provided at the scene. For example, you may have told the police immediately after the accident that you didn’t know whether the other driver was talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash. But now you remember seeing that she was on a cell phone. Your attorney will be able to check the report and may see that records show the driver had indeed made a phone call just before the collision.
In some cases, your lawyer will find that your report actually does align with what you now recall. In this case, you have nothing to worry about.
If you did misspeak in the moment or you have remembered something now that you’ve had a chance to calm down, your attorney can advise you what to do next.
Your attorney can look at the evidence such as photographs of the scene to see if they support your memories. For example, skid marks on the road could confirm your new memory about the way the other driver swerved to avoid hitting something.
The attorney can also review witness statements to see if they corroborate your new information. In some cases, your attorney will work with accident reconstruction experts to investigate the details of the incident. He or she can secure vehicle data from the vehicle’s black box, which may reveal the condition of the vehicle and the road. If video surveillance is available, your lawyer may also obtain security footage. All of this information may be invaluable in confirming your new claim.
If you think you might not remember entirely what happened and want to try, your attorney can employ methods that might trigger your memories and make it easier for you to remember details that were fuzzy at the scene.
The implications for your case
Remembering additional information might help you win a case. Or it may not have any effect on your case. Or it could be damaging to your case if the new information cannot be corroborated or strongly contradicts the other evidence. It depends on the unique circumstances of your case.
Your attorney will advise you what he or she thinks about the new evidence that comes to light. It’s always best to discuss this with your attorney so he or she has all the information. Your lawyer is on your side and will know if the information strengthens or weakens your claim. If you do not disclose the information as soon as possible, it could possibly hurt your case and appear as if you were hiding information.
In some cases, your attorney can arrange to have your original statement suppressed from the record. If this happens, your new statement will be considered as if it were your first statement. If the case goes to court, the jury will be able to take only your revised statement into account.
Memories and eye-witness accounts are notoriously unreliable. This fact is compounded in stressful situations. Accidents are stressful in the moment and can become increasingly nerve-wracking as you face medical bills, insurance claims and other issues. There is no need to stress yourself unduly about the details of your statement. An experienced accident attorney can guide you in a clear-headed way through your case.
The Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team provides free consultations to all potential clients so we can discuss your case, go over the evidence, and create a plan of action. We only get paid if you get paid.