In 2016, there were approximately 7.2 million cars involved in some sort of automobile collision. This equals an average of nearly 20,000 crashes per day.
Needless to say, auto accidents are a fairly common occurrence, and they often result in personal injury.
Whether it’s due to shock or simply lack of knowledge, not everyone obtains the proper documentation after an automobile accident that can help solidify their personal injury case in court.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to keep in mind.
1. Get Everyone’s Name/Contact Info
If you want your case to hold up in court, you’re going to have to make sure it has a strong foundation. Thus, it’s imperative that you have the names and contact information of people who were involved or at the scene.
It’s important to remember that you should also obtain the names of any individuals who were in the other vehicle at the time of the collision.
However, it’s crucial while communicating with the other party (or even bystanders) that you never admit fault, even if you feel like your behavior may have been a factor in the collision. Accepting responsibility is a surefire way to make sure that you aren’t compensated appropriately in the future.
To prevent potential complications down the line, avoid giving anyone your address and don’t allow anyone to take a photo of your vehicle’s license plate. As a rule of thumb, your name and insurance information is the only thing you should give to the drivers involved.
2. Take All The Pictures You Can
Photographic evidence is one of the best ways that you can support your case in the courtroom. Thus, you should be vigilant when it comes to taking pictures after an accident has occurred.
While the best photos to use are clear, high-quality pictures, you don’t need to have a professional camera to do so. Most modern smartphones are perfectly capable of capturing the evidence.
You should take photos of the damage to your vehicle, the other person’s vehicle, and the accident scene as a whole. You should also take photos of any visible injuries that you have in order to prove how injured you were as a result of the collision.
If an investigation at the scene by law enforcement interferes with your capability to acquire photographic evidence, take all of the relevant photos you can as soon as the police allow you to do so.
3. Obtain a Copy of The Accident Report
As with photos, having a copy of an accident report can be advantageous when you head to court in search of a proper settlement.
The accident report is so important due to the fact that it’s written by responding officers and provides a clear description of the scene at the time of the accident. It also contains the thoughts and opinions of the officer who wrote the report, which is something that can strengthen your case.
To obtain a copy of the accident report, you’ll need to contact the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene. To obtain a copy of an accident report in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, you can use this resource.
While accident reports are supposed to be an unbiased account of what occurred/what the officer witnessed at the scene, they can sometimes be written in favor of the opposing party. This can stem from a multitude of factors, ranging from vehicle damage to statements from witnesses who hadn’t seen the collision in its entirety.
Your personal injury lawyer, however, will know plenty of ways to work around misleading information when it’s time to enter the courtroom.
4. Document The Officers
Yet another step you need to take when compiling information about your case is writing down details about the officers who responded to the scene.
Thus, you should make sure to record the names and badge numbers of every officer present at the scene of the accident. A simple way to do so would be to ask the responder for his or her business card, which you can then take a picture of and store in your phone.
Also, make a note about which officer was the one who wrote down the police report, as they may become a relevant part of your case later on.
If the police happen to not show up at the scene, call them yourself. While it may seem obvious, it’s not impossible to forget to do so in the heat of the moment. This will strongly increase the chances of you winning your personal injury case due to the additional amount of information you can provide to the judge.
As previously mentioned, you should never admit fault when being questioned by the police. For questions where you wish to give a neutral answer as opposed to a “yes” or a “no,” you can simply respond with something along the lines of “I don’t remember.”
5. Speak to Any Witnesses
More often than not, there will be someone near the accident who will have seen exactly how it transpired.
Since they may not immediately approach you, ask anyone in the vicinity if they happened to see how the collision occurred. Most people will be more than willing to help.
Speaking to witnesses can be time-consuming (especially if there are a large handful of them at the scene), but it’s necessary for you to do so in order to bolster your case.
But, rather than trying to make bullet points or writing down what they say in its entirety, you can record their account on your cell phone. Video is best (this will help you easily differentiate between witness accounts), but not everyone at the scene may be comfortable with you recording them.
At the very least, you should be able to obtain voice recordings of what each witness saw (be sure they also state their name at the beginning of the recording). This will ensure that you correctly document everything that they saw.
6. Obtain The Other Party’s Insurance Information
You’ll want to take down the insurance information of any driver involved in the accident so that you can receive proper financial compensation to repair your vehicle.
But, doing so also creates yet another record of the accident that you can use during your case. The insurance company’s record of damage by to your vehicle can be used to prove that the collision was significant enough to cause your injuries.
When obtaining this information, be as courteous as possible. With the other driver at fault, they may be disgruntled at your attempt to contact their insurance company.
In some situations, they may become aggressive or flat-out refuse to provide you with the information you request. Thus, it’s best to approach them when there are witnesses/officers around.
In most incidents, however, it’s simply an awkward (yet necessary) interaction that you need to make in order to strengthen your chances in court.
7. Medical Records
Last (but certainly not least) on this list is obtaining your medical records.
The bread and butter of a personal injury case are how injured you are as a result of the car accident. But, it’s nearly impossible to prove this information without proper documentation.
You should, therefore, have a complete record of every hospital visit you made after the accident occurred. This is especially important since not all symptoms of collision-related injuries are immediately obvious.
This includes emergency room treatment, required prescription drugs, specialist visits, and physical therapy. The most important information to focus on is the cost of treatment, the severity of your injuries, and the opinions of the medical professionals who treated/diagnosed you.
Keep in mind that medical records can take anywhere from days to weeks for you to obtain. If you need documentation from a large handful of sources, it could be even longer before you have everything in order.
Being proactive in this regard can go a long way toward getting your case resolved as soon as possible.
Dealing With an Automobile Accident Can Be Stressful
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the above information in mind, you’ll be well on your way to getting compensation for your automobile accident and getting on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
If you’re experiencing back pain after getting into a car accident, check out our article on the signs of potential spinal disc injuries.
If you’ve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you. Your case and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephens 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even! Call Stephen! Stephen Babcock