What Information do I need to Collect after a car accident?
If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident or another accident resulting in injury and intend to make a personal injury claim, you need to make sure you collect the right information to support your claim.
It’s essential that you are proactive and collect and document all evidence in a timely manner. Otherwise, that evidence may become compromised, lost, forgotten or may be otherwise unusable in your personal injury case.
You will need to collect personal injury evidence to clearly and completely answer:
- What happened during the accident?
- Who is at fault?
- Was this due to negligence?
A critical element for any personal injury claim is anticipating and defending against the argument that your own carelessness somehow caused or contributed to the accident.
Physical evidence should be collected and documented as soon as possible after the accident. Do not hand this evidence over to anyone except for your personal injury lawyer.
If you’re unable to retain the evidence in question, make sure to photograph it so you have visual proof of that evidence at the time of the accident. Timeliness is key here as those conditions may change before you can come back to take photos. Examples of what you might need to photograph would be photos of your vehicle and the damage on it, the icy patch that you slipped on, a broken stair, or other conditions that were at play during the accident.
Photograph your evidence from multiple angles so you can select the best images of the accident scene to present to your insurance company and submit with your claim.
Without this physical evidence, your case could become an argument of unsubstantiated ‘he-said-she-said’ and you’re unlikely to settle for much, if anything.
Document Your Injuries
You should photograph and document the injuries that you’ve sustained in the accident. Take pictures of visible cuts, bruises, swelling, or marks, as well as any bandages, splints, casts or other medical devices you had to use as a result of the injury.
Keep a written log of all injuries and types of medical care received. This evidence is especially important for injuries that might not be as visible, such as deep tissue injuries, joint injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
Save ALL Documents & Records
If you were taken in an ambulance or treated at the scene, keep a record of who treated you. They may be able to provide witness statements and expert evidence for you should you go to court. First responders are very credible unbiased parties who are not easily pressured or swayed.
Keep any documents that you receive from your physician as medical evidence. These medical records act as unbiased accounts of the kind of medical care you’ve had to receive. Medical reports include detailed information and an official diagnosis of mental and physical injuries, a plan for treatment, the outlook of the injuries (semi-permanent or permanent), and whether or not the injured party can resume normal activities such as exercising or going to work.
Covered & Out of Pocket Expenses
Keep all records and documents pertaining to your medical bills and insurance claims as you’ll factor these into your claim to determine appropriate compensation for your injuries. This includes any therapy you receive and your prescription and non-prescription medication.
If you were in an accident, such as a motor vehicle accident, that had police respond to the scene, make sure you get and keep a copy of the police report. Police reports generally contain information from the scene of the accident and unbiased opinions from authorities on why it happened. Things that are specifically included in police reports from a car accident are:
- Where and when the car accident happened
- The condition of the weather at the time of the crash
- Diagrams of the scene
- What economic damages were done, and if anyone was hurt
- Information from anyone that was involved in the accident or a witness to it
- What laws were violated in the accident
- Who the Police think was at-fault for the accident
Record Lost Wages
Have your employer to write you a letter documenting the hours you have missed from work and the wages you have lost because of it. It is a good idea to save the receipts for any help you have needed around the house.
If you have missed an important life event because of your injuries, you should document that as well. If you had to miss a business or personal trip because of your injuries, save the receipts for any non-refundable expenses such as airline tickets.
Get Witness Statements
Witnesses can be extremely valuable in personal injury cases, because they can add unbiased support to your claim. Even if the witness did not actually see the accident that led to your injury when it occurred, they may still be able to provide useful accounts of what happened in the time leading up to or immediately after the accident or to support your claims about any unsafe conditions.
Do not assume that witnesses to an accident will come forward on their own accord. You will want to make sure you collect the names and contact information of all witnesses who were at the site of your accident, as well as a general account of what they saw so you know whether or not they’ll be helpful to you in your case.
You can then provide this information to your personal injury lawyer and your insurance adjuster, who will make sure to follow up with any questions they have.
Completing the Puzzle with All the Pieces
Creating a report about an incident you were involved in is akin to putting the pieces of a jigsaw together. Witness statements, medical evidence, photographic evidence and your immediate recollection of the incident all have a part to play. In isolation each piece may appear inconclusive but if you put them all together it can often create a clear picture and a watertight personal injury claim.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
It’s strongly recommended that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you think you want to pursue a personal injury claim. Your lawyer will work with you to ensure you have the evidence you need to make a strong case and get the compensation you deserve for the injuries and hardship you have endured. Contact us for a FREE Consultation.