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Harassed or Intimidated When Involved in an Accident

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 6 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Witness Statement Road Traffic Accident

Imagine the scene: You've come across a road traffic accident and you saw what happened. One of the drivers was injured and had to be taken to hospital and you know that it was the fault of the other driver - who went straight through a traffic light which was on red. So you've done what any responsible motorist would do: you've waited for the emergency services and then you've given your contact details to the attending police.

Once you've done this, the police officers have told you that they will need you to go down to your local station and give a witness statement, during which you'll need to give them all the information that you have on what happened, including any sketches or photographs that you have been able to take to support your evidence. When this is done, you'll sign the statement and you may be asked to agree to stand up in court and testify against the driver who was at fault. This can happen if the claim is contested in any way, or if criminal charges are to be brought because the driver had been drinking, or negligent or driving carelessly.

So as far as you’re concerned, you’ve done everything right. So what do you do if people start turning up on your doorstep, or ringing your home or mobile telephone, telling you that you should change your witness statement and threatening you if you say that you won’t?

Make Sure to Tell the Police

First of all, witness intimidation is illegal, so you should inform the police. You might be worried that if the police get involved then whoever is intimidating you and your family may well get more difficult to deal with, but there really isn’t much else you can do in this situation. Taking the matter into your own hands is likely to make things more difficult in the long run and the police are trained to deal with this kind of thing and do so on a regular basis.

Take Notes

Make a note of everything that the people who are intimidating you have done. Try and write down a full description of them including:
  • their appearance
  • their clothing
  • their accents and voices
  • any names you may have heard
  • any car registrations
  • where the intimidation took place
  • what was said
  • an overview of the whole situation
And anything else you think may be useful to the police.

Reporting Harassment

When you have this information you should contact the police station where you made your statement. They should be able to advise you on what to do next. They may go around and speak to the driver and lay down the law or they may go through his solicitor and tell them that if they continue to harass and intimidate you and your family, then they will add ‘intimidating a witness’ to the list of offences that they are being charged with, which will make things worse for them if they eventually get to court and if they try to appeal against any convictions.

Intimidated into Making a Statement

On the other hand, you might find yourself being harassed by someone who thinks that you should be making a statement that puts the other party in the wrong. Exactly the same applies here, you should not feel intimidated into saying anything that you don’t want to – if you see a road accident you are not legally obliged to leave your details – however if you do then you may be contacted by the police and asked for a witness statement, and you may also be called to appear in court if the case gets that far.

Remember Why you’re Making the Statement

Above all, try and remain strong and remember why you stopped and gave the information in the first place. If you know that this person has caused an accident in which another person was seriously injured, then you can make a huge difference to the victim by standing firm and making sure that your statement is heard. Hopefully in a similar situation, someone would do the same for you.

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