You’re driving home after a long day. You can’t wait to get home and relax. You just stopped at a red light, and while changing radio stations, you hear a “boom” sound and feel your car move forward like someone is pushing it. You’ve just been in a car accident.
Of course! The perfect end to your day, right? Hopefully, no one is hurt - that should be your first priority. If so, always seek medical help as soon as possible. However, once you know everyone is okay, it's time to focus on making sure you're prepared to handle the situation. Part of that is making sure you can prove what happened.
While police may come to the scene to investigate, getting your own evidence by taking pictures is a good idea. This is especially true if you hire an accident attorney to fight on your behalf.
Why You Need to Take Pictures
The expression “A picture is worth a thousand words” is true when it comes to taking photos of a car accident. Some may wonder, "Why do I need pictures? Can't I just tell them what happened?"
That brings to mind another popular expression. "There are always three sides to a story. What you see, what I see, and what actually happened." That is no different when trying to prove who caused an accident. One of the most reliable ways to prove the truth is to be able to show rather than just tell. Luckily, since most cell phones have cameras, as long as your phone wasn’t damaged in the accident, you should be able to take some photos and capture the details.
If you hire an accident attorney, like one from Accident.com, you'll be doing so after the cars have already left the scene. Since your attorney wasn't there when the car accident happened, they'll need as much information about the scene as possible. Although the police incident report will provide valuable information, actual photos taken at the scene will better help your accident attorney represent your case.
Right after the car accident, if you can make a phone call, dial 911 to dispatch the police to the scene. While waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures of both vehicles.
The only reason you shouldn't take photos of the other vehicle is if the driver is hostile and uncooperative. If they aren't willing to cooperate, you should allow the police to handle the situation so you stay safe.
Speaking of safety, your wellbeing is of the utmost importance. If you need medical attention, do so as soon as possible. It's still a good idea to see a doctor even if you feel fine in order to make sure you don't have any hidden problems that could hurt you in the long-term.
Evidence You Should Collect at the Car Accident Scene
While waiting for the police to arrive, take photos of the following:
- All four corners of both vehicles, enabling the viewer to see two sides at once.
- The exterior damage to the vehicles.
- The position of the cars at the scene. Include landmarks or street signs if possible to create a better picture of the scene.
- Any interior damage to the vehicles.
- Skid marks, debris and auto parts from the car accident that are on the ground.
- The license plates and driver's licenses.
- The insurance card of the other driver.
Also, remember: It's better to take photos for evidence instead of a long video. You can shoot a video for your own records, but pictures capture more details and are easier for investigators and attorneys to use. However, pictures aren't the only form of documentation you should take advantage of.
If your state allows it, try to record any conversations you have with the other driver and any witnesses. While you should always minimize conversation with any third party (you don't want to say something accidentally incriminating), recording conversations can help your case.
For example, securing witnesses' statements via video is more accurate and reliable than your memory. Also, if you can get the other driver's admittance of fault on video, that will be great for your case.
Don't Forget About Written Notes
It’s also a good idea to take written notes at the scene if you can. Should you decide to take legal action, your accident attorney will interview you about the incident, which could potentially be several days after the car accident. Because of the delay, it may be more difficult for you to remember specifics, so taking notes immediately at the scene will help you.
Your attorney will ask about the location, your destination and your traveling speed, as well as weather and road conditions…all in an effort to recreate the scene so your lawyer understands what happened. You should also write down the year, make, model and color of the other vehicle, as well as the other driver’s name and contact information.
Also, write down exactly how the accident occurred and a good description of the damages. If there were any witnesses at the scene, you’ll want to write down their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to give their versions of the story.
You may be wondering why you have to write down notes if photos and recorded conversations can provide the answers to many of these inquiries. Doing all three forms may seem redundant. However, the more proof and forms of evidence you can provide, the stronger (and more reliable) your case will be and the easier it will be for your attorney to get you a fair settlement. Evidence is proof. Think of this as helping your attorney help you.
Request a copy of the police report and medical records
While gathering all of your own pictures and documentation can be vital to your case, it’s equally important to get a copy of the police report and any medical records from the accident. These documents provide official proof of the accident and its severity. This evidence will further support your personal records to help your lawyer work your case. Check with your local police department or department of motor vehicles to request the police report. Visit your hospital or doctor’s office for the medical information.
Taking Legal Action With an Accident Attorney
If you're considering hiring a lawyer, Accident.com is a good place to start. By providing your information on the site, we'll refer you to an attorney for a free consultation. If a lawyer accepts your case, they can speak to the insurance companies on your behalf or determine if further legal action is needed.
There are time limitations for pursuing a car accident claim though, so don't wait to contact Accident.com.