Car accidents occur every day, resulting in months or even years of legal conflict and recovery for the victims, especially if an accident causes injuries. Unfortunately, building a strong injury claim is much easier and often more successful if victims collect important information and evidence before leaving the scene, but this not always possible.
If you or someone you know experiences a car accident, it is wise to gather as much evidence as you can before leaving the scene and before the cleanup crews arrive to clear away debris. In many cases, if a victim leaves the scene without collecting important evidence, that evidence may disappear permanently, complicating the claims process.
You must make it a priority to document the scene properly if at all possible, because you may never get another opportunity. If there is a dispute over who is liable for the accident, the more evidence you can gather to support your position, the better. A strong legal strategy is important if you want to keep your rights protected while seeking complete compensation for your losses. The weaker your claim, the more opportunities the other party may have to avoid compensating you for all your losses, including medical bills and lost income.
First things first
After a car accident, the first thing to do is to check yourself and any other passengers in your own vehicle for injuries. If anyone sustained an injury, it is wise to take notes or use your phone to take pictures and video to document it. Check on any other drivers and passengers involved in the accident to see if they suffered injuries and need immediate help. In general, you should not attempt to move an injured person after a car accident unless they are in danger.
If possible, move the vehicles out of the road, to reduce the possibility of other car accidents piling up. If you can do so safely, begin collecting information from the other driver and any witnesses, and document the scene to ensure you have pictures and video for later scrutiny.
Protect yourself immediately
In most cases, it is not practical to avoid speaking to the other parties involved in the accident entirely, but you must protect against accidentally accepting liability by saying too much. It is wise to ask for their contact and insurance information, and avoid further conversation. While this may feel rude in the moment, a simple kindness such as apologizing for the accident may be viewed as accepting blame for causing it. If there are any witnesses, ask them for statements on what they saw.
If you have your phone, it is probably the easiest way to take pictures and video of the scene, but it is good to look for any other footage that may show the moment of the accident. Consider looking for traffic cameras or security cameras on nearby homes and businesses, and be sure to ask for the footage immediately if you see any. This footage may show exactly what happened, but is probably only available for a day or two before the system or owner deletes it.
The more evidence you gather in the moments after the accident, the stronger your claim may be. Don’t wait to begin building your claim. The sooner you begin protecting yourself, the stronger these protections can be. With a solidly built claim, you can focus your energy on your recovery with confidence that your rights remain protected throughout the claims process and beyond.