How to write a car accident witness report

Updated April 17, 2017

Car accidents are common and result in expensive property damage as well as physical injuries to drivers, passengers and bystanders. If you see a car accident, your observations are important in helping to determine how the accident occurred, who is at fault or has liability, and whether unsafe road conditions exist that need to be corrected. You can complete a clear, concise, useful car accident witness report following these steps.

Complete the report while the incident is still fresh in your mind; however, if you are still at the scene of the accident and are distracted, ask for a few moments to step aside and think about what you saw before you write anything down. Focus on what you yourself saw and heard, and not on what other people said happened.

Draw a map or diagram of the incident first to help organise your thoughts. Return to the scene of the accident if you are not still there, and consult a compass so that you can accurately orient the diagram by marking a north arrow. Sketch a map on scrap paper before copying it over onto your witness form. Mark in any major adjacent landmarks that help you and anyone reading the form to identify the location clearly.

Mark the vehicles' directions of travel with small arrows. Note your location at the time of the accident with either an X if you were a pedestrian, or an X in a box if you were in another vehicle. Draw the vehicles as simple rectangles; it helps if the rectangles are roughly of comparative size--larger for a truck, smaller for a compact car.

Outline your narrative on scrap paper. Describe the incident in chronological order. Start your narrative only at the point you first saw the vehicles involved.

Jot approximate times next to each step. If you are completing the statement at a later time, check a calendar to ensure that you have the correct date for the incident. Copy your statement onto the accident witness form including the approximate times. Complete your identifying information, and follow the instructions on the form regarding signing it, which may require a witness or a notary.


Your accident witness report need not be a work of art, but rather needs to be clear and understandable. Keep drawings to simple shapes and lines that can be easily photocopied and interpreted by people looking at your report. If a law enforcement officer or someone else insists on writing the statement for you, read it over carefully and make sure that it accurately and completely represents your observations. Make any necessary changes before you sign it, and do not sign it if it is inaccurate.


Providing false information on an accident witness report may constitute a crime. Make sure the information you provide is truthful and accurate based on your personal observations. If you have any reason to believe you may have some liability regarding the accident, or have other legal concerns about your presence at the scene or involvement with the incident, consult an attorney before giving any statement. Notify law enforcement officials politely but clearly that you need to consult your attorney before speaking or completing any forms. Once you complete an accident witness report, it is likely you may be contacted by insurance agents or attorneys regarding the event. Keep a copy of your statement so that you can refer to it.

Things You'll Need

  • Car accident witness report form from a law enforcement agency, court or insurance company
  • Compass
  • Calendar
  • Watch
  • Scrap paper
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About the Author

A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.