Evidence is the backbone of any injury case, and having solid evidence could mean the difference between your claim succeeding or not. While you do have several top priorities after your accident — such as calling the police and seeking medical attention for all hurt parties, including yourself — documenting the accident scene as soon as possible falls right in after those in terms of importance. This evidence typically includes photos, eyewitness testimony, detailed notes, official documents, and anything else that’s relevant.
Our Charlotte car accident attorneys have seen countless cases where solid evidence either strengthened a claim or poked holes in the negligent driver’s defense. Without evidence, negotiating or receiving a judgement in your favor could easily turn into a game of “he said, she said.” With it, you can definitively and confidently point to the truth of the matter. You may also be better equipped to remember crucial facts or details you may have otherwise gotten mixed up.
In short, documenting evidence of your car accident could easily play in your favor in most injury cases. You can use the following tips to help you gather evidence on your own at the scene of your next car accident.
First Make Sure Everyone Is Safe, and Call an Ambulance for Anyone Who Needs It (Including You)
Before you gather evidence after your car accident, you should take some immediate steps to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
- Check if you’re ok. If you need an ambulance, dial 911 immediately.
- If you are able and can do so safely, go check on the other people involved in the accident. Determining their condition and whether they need emergency medical attention is critical.
- Get to a safe place away from the road, and dial for emergency services if you haven’t already. Inform them of how many people are hurt and if possible, give them information regarding their injuries. Give 911 your location as accurately as you can. Use nearby landmarks and businesses to supplement any street names you offer. If you are on the highway, try to identify a billboard, road sign, nearby exit, or a mile marker.
Capture Photos of the Other Driver’s License Plate
Your next order of business is to protect yourself if the other driver decides to speed off.
You should immediately capture a picture of their vehicle and, preferably, a close up picture of their license plate to help with identifying them if necessary.
If they allow you to, you will also want a photo of their driver’s license and insurance policy card. Do not confront the driver if they are being belligerent or simply refuse to present this information to you.
Document Your Injuries
Once you have the other driver’s information, document your injuries. Snap a few quick photos now while the injuries are fresh. Try to have a strong, clear light in all the photos. You can include common objects like a quarter or dollar bill as reference props to give an idea to the size of your bruises or cuts.
Later, you can get some better close-ups of your injuries in proper lighting. You will want to document the condition of things as they develop, such as how the color of a bruise deepens hours after your accident.
Take Wide Photos of the Accident Before Vehicles Are Moved
After you get at least one photo of all your injuries, you will want to snap photos of the accident.
Try to capture multiple angles and viewpoints. You will want a few wide angles of the entire accident scene so that everyone reviewing the case can have a frame of reference. You can also take a few orienting pictures with road signs or landmarks in the background to verify the accident’s location.
A walking video “tour” of the accident may also help orient people trying to recreate it.
At this point, if your vehicles are functional and you can safely enter them and move them, you should immediately move to a safe, secure location nearby with all the other drivers involved. North Carolina law mandates that you remove vehicles from the main roadway unless they are disabled or you cannot reasonably approach them.
When moving your vehicle, go to the closest location where you feel safe. That may mean the shoulder of the road or a short drive to another location. If one is available, you may wish to find a well-lit area where other people are present.
Ideally, you will have told 911 dispatchers that you intend to move the vehicles if possible and let them know where you will be going.
On the other hand, your vehicles may not be functional or safe at all to approach. For instance, you may have gotten into an accident along a busy freeway with poor visibility. If this is the case, find a safe place for yourself to wait for police and medics.
Take Closeups of Vehicle Damage and Debris
Regardless of whether you moved the vehicles, your next step is to get a close up photo of all the vehicle damage. Try to capture details like crunched metal, broken glass, or obvious indicators of damage. If your front tire is pushed into the driver’s side fender, for example, get a closeup of that.
Get Video Statements of Eyewitnesses
If you have a smartphone that you’re snapping photos with, you can switch to video mode to interview any eyewitnesses.
Capture statements that include specific details, like the timing of who hit whom and where it happened. Do not interrupt the witnesses to correct them or attempt to lead their answers in any way. Ask them to tell you their full name and contact information in the video. If they’ll let you, take a photo of their ID.
Take a Video Testimonial
You will want to take notes of your experience during the accident before you forget important details. You can take notes using a pen and paper or your smartphone’s note-taking function. Or, you could simply record yourself making a statement as you did for eyewitnesses.
See Police and Medics
At this point, the police may have arrived and begun providing instructions. Or, maybe you have been largely incapacitated because you knew you had a major injury and shouldn’t move.
In either case, you should accept all medical care offered to you. That may include accepting an ambulance ride to the hospital even if you did not initially request one on your emergency call.
Provide complete, accurate, detailed statements to the police officer so they can note them on their report. Remember that the police report may be very helpful in proving the cause of the accident. You are the only person who can tell the police what happened from your perspective and the police report is your opportunity to explain how the accident happened.
Request Copies of the Police Report and Your Medical Documentation
A copy of the accident report will be made available to you within a few days or weeks after it is filed. Request several official copies, including some for your Charlotte car accident attorneys.
Likewise, keep a copy of every bit of medical notation or billing information you receive. Keep a running tab of your out-of-pocket costs, too, like copays. You can even track incidental expenses that were only made necessary because you had an injury, such as mileage to and from your doctor visits.
Make Copies of Your Evidence as Backup and to Provide to Your Charlotte Car Accident Attorneys
All of these bits of evidence can greatly benefit your personal injury case. Since they are so important, you should make backup copies just in case something happens to your device. Consider saving them to the cloud or emailing yourself the information from your phone.
After an accident, you should consider speaking to an accident lawyer about your potential injury case. Initially an injury lawyer may be able to help you determine if you need their assistance. An injury lawyer is going to want to see your police report (let them pull it for you) and to speak to you about your recollection of the accident and the evidence that you have gathered.
You can reach out to Auger & Auger today to schedule a free case review regarding your accident when you call us or contact us online. With your evidence and your attorneys’ legal expertise, you stand equipped for the fight for compensation relating to your medical bills, lost wages and your pain and suffering. Call Auger & Auger at (855) 969-5730 to find out more about how we may be able to help you!