A car accident can be one of the most frightening and chaotic events of a person’s life. Victims of car accidents have to deal with injuries, property damage, determinations of fault, and possible lawsuits – all in the hectic aftermath of a collision. While the most important factor to consider after an accident is the health and safety of those involved, there are other things victims need to do to protect themselves from liability issues.
Gathering these five pieces of information immediately following an accident can mean the difference between receiving compensation for your damages and having to pay out of pocket for someone else’s negligence.
Other Party’s Information
Unless you were in a single-vehicle collision, you need to collect the information of the other driver(s) and parties involved. This includes the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and insurance information of any party involved in the crash. Take down license plate numbers and take photos of the person’s driver’s license and vehicle if possible.
Gathering as much information about the other parties involved will help you file a report with your insurance company and resolve any liability issues later. You may need to contact the other party following an accident to discuss insurance coverage or other problems. A reliable way to get in touch is crucial. Collecting the other party’s information prevents a guilty person from escaping without a way to track them down.
If there were any bystanders or passengers who witnessed the crash, collect their information as well. Witnesses can be valuable in a personal injury case where the determination of fault is in question. Get witnesses’ names and contact information, and let them know you may need a statement from them later. The sooner you gather a witness’s statement after the crash, the more accurate the information will be. Anyone who saw the accident can help prove your case against an at-fault party.
Photographs of the Accident
Most people today have mobile devices that can take high-quality pictures. If possible, use your phone or another camera to take photos of the scene of the accident. Photograph all vehicles involved, property damage, and any injuries. Photographic evidence is a strong and accurate form of proof if you end up in a legal battle with the other driver. Photos can prove the extent of damage to vehicles, types of injuries, and the circumstances of the crash. Take photos of the accident that capture any important roadway details nearby, such as a stoplight or intersection. Photos can enable someone to understand how a crash occurred and help determine fault.
Copies of Emergency Responder Reports
When 911 responds to a crash reporting, police officers and other emergency first responders will arrive on scene and write official reports of the accident. An accident’s official crash report will typically have the contact information of all parties involved, descriptions of the vehicles in the crash, and a determination of who is likely at fault.
Ask for a copy of the police report before you leave the scene of the accident, as well as copies of other reports from paramedics, the fire department, and EMTs. If you needed medical attention for your injuries, keep a copy of your medical records and documentation of a hospital visit. This includes any bills and invoices you receive.
Your Own Account of the Crash
As soon as possible after an accident, record everything you can from your own memory of the crash. This includes the direction you and the other driver were traveling, how the crash occurred, and what damages you suffered. Write down your own account of the crash while it’s still fresh in your mind. This way, you’ll be able to give your insurance provider, police officers, attorneys, and anyone else an accurate and detailed description of what happened.