Car accidents can be scary and traumatic events. It can be hard to think or speak clearly after a trauma, but the things that you do and say in the time immediately after a car accident can have a considerable effect on the success of a personal injury case later. Knowing what types of evidence you are looking for and having an idea of what you can do at the scene of the accident will help you do what is best for your case.
Here’s a list of what you should do immediately after you’ve been in a car or truck accident:
- Seek medical attention if necessary
- Collect information from other drivers
- Document the scene with photos & videos
- Collect information from witnesses & police
In this post, each section is broken down in detail so you know exactly what to do and how to do it if you find yourself in a car accident.
Seek Medical Attention
The first thing that you should do at the scene of the accident is determined whether you or anyone in your car needs medical assistance. If there is any chance that an injury occurred, call 911 and the operator will send medical treatment to the scene of the accident. Even if you think you feel fine, it could be due to a rush of adrenaline or shock from the accident, so don’t write off injuries until a few days following the incident.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that failing to obtain medical treatment can be seen as a factor against your case later on down the road. Play it safe when it comes to injuries from car and motor vehicle accidents.
If your ability to walk, move, or stand is negatively impacted, it’s a good idea to be transported by ambulance to the hospital when given the opportunity. Records taken by emergency medical services contribute to the documentation of your injuries starting at the scene of the collision, making your case for medical compensation stronger.
Vehicle and Driver Information
If you and the passengers in your car are not severely injured, the second most important step in properly responding to a car accident is to collect information about the other driver.
Here’s what you should ask for if you are involved in a car accident:
- The other driver’s legal name
- The other driver’s address as it is listed on their driver’s license
- The other driver’s license numbers (driver’s license and license plate)
- The make, model, color, and any other identifying features of the other driver’s car
- The other driver’s insurance policy number and insurance provider
If you were hit by a company vehicle or a commercial truck, gather the driver’s employer’s information Here’s a detailed explanation of what you’ll need to collect and what NOT to say to the other driver:
It is critical to gather the name, address, driver’s license number, vehicle information, and insurance information for all other drivers involved. Take pictures of anything you can including drivers’ licenses; insurance cards; license plates; damage to all vehicles; drivers licenses of witnesses; scene of the accident; and stop light sequence if you believe someone ran a red light. If you have an accident with a truck or other commercial vehicle, obtain the drivers’ employer contact and insurance information. All of this information is extremely important to collect as soon after the incident as possible in case the driver decides to drive off, effectively turning the accident into a hit-and-run.
Many times the police will obtain this information for you, but if you speak to the other driver, you will want to watch what you say. Do not discuss who was at fault, don’t admit fault, or otherwise argue with the other driver. Remain professional and calm at all times. Don’t talk about any injuries you may or may not have; anything you say may be admitted into evidence later.
Finally, if the other driver leaves the scene, do your very best to write down or take a picture of their license plate number as this can help police identify the driver. Your first step in a hit-and-run situation is to call the police. Never attempt to follow or chase down the other driver.
If the driver flees the scene, all hope is not lost as – and this depends on where your accident occurs – you may be able to obtain vehicle information from traffic cameras, and you risk further injury by attempting to chase down another driver.
Photos and Videos
If you can do so, taking pictures immediately after the accident is a good idea. You will want to be very thorough in your approach to taking photos of the accident scene. Take a variety of pictures from as many angles as possible, and be sure to take both close-up pictures as well as photos that show the entire accident scene. Make sure to get pictures of all of the vehicles involved, including close-ups of any damage to your car or the other cars involved. While it is sometimes possible to obtain photos later, pictures of damage from the scene can be extremely compelling pieces of evidence.
Other evidence surrounding the vehicles can be crucial. If there are skid marks, traffic lights, stop signs, damage to other property (including guardrails, trees, street lights, grass in the median, or anything else) make sure to get pictures of these as well. Lastly, if you or your passengers have minor injuries and you are able to photograph them, this will help prove that the accidents occurred on the scene as most cameras (including phone cameras) will save the time and date the photograph was taken to the photo’s data.
Videos of the scene can be helpful as well, but be careful of taking videos of others without their permission. Some states prohibit you by law from recording others without their consent, so it is important to understand your state’s rules. If you’re in Texas, at the time this article was posted, there are no laws preventing you from recording the scene of an accident
Police and Witness Information
If you are injured in an accident and need to be transported by ambulance, chances are that police will be gathering much of your evidence for you. If the police file a report, it should include information such as the date, time and location of the crash, the weather and traffic conditions, a report of injuries, and who responded to the accident. Sometimes, police officers will also include diagrams of the accident scene or photos, like the example below. Another possibility if you are not able to collect evidence yourself is to contact a car accident lawyer. Lawyers can reach out to individuals such as accident reconstruction experts to help determine what caused the crash and to what extent you may be able to collect damages.
Accident diagram example [source http://www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au/Pages/representing/lawassist_car_accident/evidence/sample_sketches.aspx]
If the police do not investigate your accident on the scene, there are still forms that you may fill out with the Texas Department of Transportation. Link to the form. 0. A Texas car accident lawyer can help you file the necessary documents.
Sometimes police reports include witness testimonies or information, but it’s not a bad idea to independently obtain witness’ names and contact information, and their description of the events leading up to, during, and after the accident. If you believe an eye-witness is critical to your case, an attorney can help you evaluate that witness. Witness testimony is frequently called into question based on many factors such as distraction, vantage point or poor eyesight, and it is important to evaluate how a witness’ testimony may help your claim.
After the Accident
After a car accident, there are records that you will need to obtain to further support your case. An experienced car wreck lawyer will obtain a copy of all of your medical records and billing information including those from the hospital, your treating doctors, the ambulance company who transported you, any specialists or your primary doctor who examined and/or treated you for the injuries caused by the accident, and any other records from medical care or chiropractic care you underwent to repair injuries caused by the accident. These records will obtain a detailed history of treatment, diagnoses, medications, and any other statements made by your doctor. Each of the expenses associated with the injuries you incurred, if documented well, may be recoverable as damages in the event of a settlement.
It is also important to obtain and keep records of the damage done to your vehicle. This will include any repair estimates or bills, or statements from your insurance company. It is always a good idea to let your insurance company know about your accident right away, as there are likely provisions in your policy regulating where you can get your car fixed or how much you can recover if your vehicle is totaled.
Other records to support your ability to recover compensation for loss of work can include paycheck stubs, records of tips, and additional financial information. If you are required to take time off of work because of your injuries, you may be able to recover lost wages. Similarly, because pain and suffering is allowable and recoverable damage in Texas, it’s a good idea to keep a written record of how the accident and your injuries are affecting your day to day life.
Keeping a detailed timeline of the events that transpired as a result of your accident will ultimately help your case, and it all starts at the scene of the accident. By following this guide, you are building a stronger case, which can mean larger recoveries when a settlement is in question. At Rasansky Law Firm, we are here to support you if you are involved in a car accident. Click to learn more about the experienced car accident lawyer behind Rasansky Law Firm, Jeff Rasansky.
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