Did you recently get in a car accident? If so, you know just how quickly things happen after you’re hit. If you’re not at fault, the first moments after a car accident are often the most crucial when it comes to gathering evidence, and this is especially true if you were injured.
First things first: make sure that you and any fellow passengers are safe and not harmed. If you are, go to the hospital or urgent care immediately.
Once you ensure everyone is safe, you should start gathering car accident evidence, both financial and physical, immediately. It’s extremely important to gather as much evidence as possible about the crash: how it happened, and how it affected you. The type and quality of your evidence can make or break the success of your car insurance claim or lawsuit, especially if the other involved parties decide to contest your claims.
You can call us at 888-612-7001 or message us via our online form to get a free case review with no obligations. While you’re waiting to hear back from us, read on to learn more about the most crucial evidence to collect.
Pictures of the Accident
Understandably, pictures of the car accident are the most crucial to gather in the moments after the accident occurs. Pictures go a long way in recreating the scene of the accident, and can even prove certain claims, like a limited field of vision or prior road damage.
As long as the photos are time and date-stamped, you can take as many photos of the accident as you would like. However, we recommend taking photos of the following no matter what:
- License plates of all vehicles involved
- Insurance of all vehicles involved
- Damage to the body of all vehicles involved
- Any residual damage, like skid marks, road conditions, potholes, and other miscellaneous debris
- Traffic signs and/or signals, especially if they’re low visibility, damaged, or low functioning in some way
- All resulting personal injuries
- Perspective from the moment of the accident, from all vehicles involved
Additionally, if you have a dash cam connected to the front and/or rear of your vehicle, grab the recording of the accident as soon as possible.
There are three possible witness groups for any car accident: you, the other parties involved in the crash, and any passersby who may have seen what happened. Passersby can include pedestrians, people in other vehicles nearby, and cyclists.
When an accident occurs, every responsible driver is required by law to stop, talk with the other person or people involved, exchange contact and insurance information, and give a statement to police, if called. If the other responsible party or parties in a car accident neglect to stop and exchange information, they’re actively breaking the law.
Any external witness for the car accident may also give statements to support your claim. If someone is willing to serve as a witness, exchange contact information with them as well.
One of the biggest questions we receive when handling these cases is when to get a police report after a car accident. The answer to this question depends on what happens at the scene of the accident.
If the police were called and a police officer came to the car accident scene, they would more often than not file a police report at that time. Police reports, sometimes called accident or incident reports, gather statements and testimonies from involved parties and witnesses. They also may include the attending officer’s statement on who caused the accident to occur and whether or not there were any laws violated leading up to the accident.
Police reports can be vital pieces of evidence when putting together a car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Especially when presented in combination with car accident evidence, like photographs, police reports hold a lot of value with judges in these kinds of cases.
How long it takes to receive a copy of the police report and whether or not it will cost you any money depends on the department involved, despite the fact that police reports are public record. Some departments have quicker turnaround times than others, and some will provide a police report for free while others charge administrative fees. When requesting a copy, be sure to ask about turnaround time and any fees required from you.
Now that you’ve made your statements, gathered all the important car accident evidence, and requested or already received a copy of the police report, let’s talk about damages.
There are two types of damages when it comes to car accidents: financial damages and physical damages. These are often called special and general damages, respectively.
Financial damages involve anything tied to a dollar value for both you and your car. These include:
- Vehicle damage, including car repairs, replacements, and car rentals while your car is in the shop
- Medical bills for any appointments, procedures, or other medical-related expenses and treatments, including physical therapy
- Lost pay and wages due to recovery from the car accident or other related appointments and meetings, in the form of pay stubs, W-2s, or 1099s
Especially if your injuries are severe, be sure to record all medical information — every appointment, medical bill, and procedure directly related to the car accident can prove financial damage.
Physical damages involve anything related to your personal and mental well-being. Unfortunately, these damages can be subjective and hard to prove value. These include:
- Mental health-related concerns and conditions, like PTSD
- Pain, suffering, and impairment
- Emotional turmoil and anguish
- Effect on quality of life
- Loss of support and/or companionship, especially in wrongful death cases
Typically, judges and jurors will measure physical damages in relation to your medical expenses, which makes it all the more important to keep a detailed record of those expenses.
Immediately After the Accident
The sooner you can start gathering evidence and filing claims or lawsuits, the better. Of course, this becomes more difficult if your injuries are severe.
If you’re physically able to take all of the above steps with little stress, it’s vital to do and say the right things in order to set yourself up for success and increase the likelihood that you will win your claim or lawsuit.
Some things to keep in mind immediately following a car accident:
- Call for help if it’s needed — Dial 911 if medical attention is necessary, or the police on their non-emergency line to file a police report. Sometimes, alerting the police is not required. However, some states require you to file a police report following a car accident depending on the value of related property damage.
- Gather contact and insurance information from everyone involved in the accident, and exchange contact information with any witnesses willing to give a statement on your behalf.
- When talking about the car accident with involved parties, witnesses, and law enforcement, be careful with what you say. Keep emotions level and don’t say anything you may regret — especially when it comes to a legal case where those words can come back to affect the outcome. Never admit fault.
- Make sure the information you share to the police or judge and jury aligns with what you said to involved parties and witnesses. Documents like interrogatories record information related to the car accident evidence and claims from all parties. If you’re inconsistent with your side of the accident, that can be used against you.
It’s Vital To Collect Evidence After a Car Accident in GA, SC, and NC
As you can see, collecting the right evidence after a car accident can be the difference between a successful claim and a failed claim. Every little detail is important, from the damage to your vehicle, to all of your medical expenses, to testimonies from passersby.
However, handling all of this information on your own after a traumatizing accident can be overwhelming for anyone. If you’re looking for someone to help you through your claim or lawsuit, we’re here to help. Our car accident attorneys will review all of the evidence from your accident and guide you through the next steps to achieve the desired outcome. We require zero upfront fees and only receive payment for our services if we win on your behalf.
Contact George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers at (888) 612-7001 for a free, no-obligation case review for your recent car accident today.