Additional Accident Interviewing Procedures

In interviewing witnesses, the following suggested additional procedures would be helpful in obtaining accurate and precise factual documentation of the accident.

1. It should be emphasized to the witness that they should speak only of matters within their personal knowledge; that is, what they saw or heard, and not hearsay evidence.

2. The witness should begin by giving his or her name, address, occupation, and experience, if any, and in the case of children, his or her age.

3. Witnesses should be encouraged to tell in their own words all they know about the accident. Do not attempt to put words in their mouths.

4. While they are giving their account of the mishap, they should not be interrupted except to prevent them from going off on irrelevant matters. One of your primary duties is to maintain and/or regain the focus of the interview.

5. After a witness has finished, questions should be put to the to clarify doubtful points which may arise in their statement, but questions should not be phrased is such a manner as to suggest the answers.

6. The use of highly technical terms when asking questions of a witness who may have no knowledge of the subject should be avoided.

7. A witness should be treated with utmost courtesy at all times, and any semblance of coercion avoided.

8. A witness may be able to express his statement better by sketches than by words. Such sketches are acceptable as clarification of their evidence.

9. A transcript should be made of the interview, and if possible, have the witness sign the statement.

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