The first few moments after a car accident are overwhelming. Adrenaline is high, emotions may be running rampant, and oftentimes there is still moving traffic surrounding you. Through all of this, you still need to gather certain information about the accident and the parties involved before you can leave the scene. Through all the hysteria it can be difficult to remember what exactly you need to document. Here is a guide on the information you need to collect immediately following an accident.
- Police Report
Calling the police should always be your first response when you’ve just experienced a car accident for a few reasons:
- The police will help to either relocate your vehicles out of the main roadway or create a safe perimeter surrounding the scene to prevent any further damage or injuries.
- They will be able to keep you safe in case of any threatening or dangerous behaviors from the other party.
- Everything recorded in their report will be from a neutral, third-party perspective. This will hopefully provide a non-biased, accurate description of your accident.
If you were not at fault in the incident, having a thorough police report can be a significant advantage for your claim. Many accidents turn into he-said, she-said scenarios, or worse, leave one party to recount all the events alone in the case of a hit-and-run.
An impartial telling of the events from officers may also be more accurate than your documentation, as the police will gather evidence of:
- All parties present at the scene
- The events leading up to it
- Details of the vehicles involved including their positioning relative to each other, trajectory, and damages
- Location of the accident (lanes, intersection, city)
Keep in mind that the police reports are not always 100% accurate and may not necessarily reflect your experience. If this is the case, you can appeal the report.
- The Other Party’s Personal Information
Before anyone leaves the scene, you need to gather as much information about the other party as possible. Unfortunately, when other drivers are at fault, there is a risk of them lying about their presence at the incident or their actions. This means that you need to document each person present, and, if possible, their personal information (name, description, and insurance, if they were behind the wheel or own the vehicle).
- Damages to the Vehicles
No matter the severity of the damage – whether it was just a scratch on the door or a dent in the hood – write down every impact on your vehicle and photograph it for further evidence. Taking photos from several angles will help to illustrate the full impact from all sides and ensure that nothing is left out.
Record fine details such as the weather, surrounding street names, whether you were on a freeway or city street, and any elements that may have played a part in the events of the collision.
- Medical Records
If you are experiencing discomfort or pain after a car accident, it is highly recommended that you go see a medical professional. Retain your documents and summaries of your visit(s), along with evidence of your physical and/or mental condition before the incident, in case you need to file a claim for personal injury.
Even when we do our best to record as detailed information as possible regarding vehicle collisions, there may still be hang-ups in the handling of your documentation. Details may be lost or misconstrued, which can lead to your insurance rejecting your claim. Hiring an experienced accident lawyer can prevent this from happening.
A quality accident lawyer can help to prove your innocence in a car accident by investigating and negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. Reduce the stress following your accident and secure your compensation by hiring a lawyer as soon as possible.