Getting into a car accident is a difficult thing to handle, especially in the heat of the moment. As such, it is not at all uncommon for people to completely forget to take down evidence to cover themselves in the event that they plan to seek damages from someone else involved in the car accident or if they fear that someone may seek damages from them. It may be difficult to retain this information, so we’ve provided some tips to try to internalize to better retain evidence when the car accident occurs in the first place.
Tips to retain evidence at a car accident scene
In a car accident, one of the first things you should do is make sure that you and other people are not in need of immediate medical attention, and then to call the police so that they can file their report. This report may prove to be the most valuable evidence for you, as it provides an unbiased perspective, being that the police were not involved in the accident and as such have no reason to favor one side or the other. If the injuries sustained by anyone involved in the accident are significant enough to warrant it, you should ensure that you also ask for an ambulance while you are on the line with the 911 operator. However, there are still things for you to do to ensure that you have retained evidence.
The first thing you should do is take pictures and videos of all damages and all injuries sustained by any parties involved in the accident. Take pictures of all cars involved, focusing on new damages resulting from the accident. Also, take a picture of any wounds. Heck, you may as well even take pictures of a coffee spill in your car. Anything that could be used to demonstrate what happened during the accident. This will do a world of good for your case, as it demonstrates — if needed — that the injuries and damages took place on the actual scene.
It is not uncommon for someone to allege that injuries or damages were not related to the accident, so having those photos will help. There are even ways to demonstrate that the photos were taken when and where you allege they were in the event that they allege the photos weren’t at the scene of the accident. This is done through exchangeable image file format (Exit) data, which, when the photos and videos are taken through a cell phone, contain data to show the geolocation data as well as the exact date and time of the capture. Also be sure to capture any debris, as it can be used to demonstrate that, say, your broken headlight was because of that specific accident. The immediate moments of the car accident are perhaps the most important, so be sure to capture them as quickly as possible.
Also make sure that you talk to the other person or persons involved in the accident, get their information so that you can contact them and their insurance agency. Other information that you should seek include their driver’s license ID, license plate number, and the make and model of their vehicle. Having this information can be very useful; if you failed to get the information from the other driver, either through your inaction or them simply leaving (which is illegal as a hit and run), it may make it that much more difficult to pursue them for damages, so do not let that opportunity to go.
Do be sure that you do not let them simply pay you money as compensation. This may seem like a fine idea in the moment, but this can be an attempt to get around the other driver driving without insurance or without an ID. Not only that, but it may turn out that the medical and repair costs are greater than the payout they give you. It is simply not worth the risk, even if it seems like they are giving you a substantial sum of money in the moment. If the stars are aligned, however, you have an accident with someone who is entirely cooperative, which is always a great experience.
If there are witnesses at the scene, be sure to try to talk to them so you can take their statements. Recording them may be the best option if they are willing to be recorded, as it avoids having to demonstrate that the witness testimony you jotted down was valid. Ultimately, this witness testimony, as well as photos and videos of the accident, significantly contribute to your case in the event that the other driver is contradicting your perspective on what happened.
Anyone who failed to take care of retaining evidence can tell you why evidence matters for your case. By taking too little of your own evidence, you run a serious risk of losing your case due to too much of it being based simply on your own accounts versus one another, and that is the last thing you want. Regardless of how much information and evidence you are able to retain from the scene of the accident, the best bet in your case is to retain the services of a quality attorney. The better your representation, in this case, the more likely your case is to be successful.