Building a strong claim after a car accident often depends on the strength of the evidence that you gather at the scene or that someone else gathers on your behalf. Even in instances where it seems obvious who is at fault and who is not, it is crucial to gather as much evidence as one can at the scene of the accident when it occurs.
Within minutes, at worst, and hours, at best, road crews and medical personnel arrive at most accident scenes to clear away debris, tend to the victims, and get traffic moving again, especially if the accident occurs in a high-traffic area. This means you may have a very limited amount of time to gather evidence that may crucially substantiate your claim and help you seek fair compensation or defend yourself against claims by the other party or parties.
Don't overlook how important evidence collection is when building your injury claim. A poorly constructed claim may not deliver the compensation that you truly need, or may leave you vulnerable to further legal attacks by other parties.
Documenting the scene
Immediately after any accident, your first concern is your safety. Even if you do not feel any pain, you may have injuries that you cannot yet feel. If you have any reason to believe that you suffered injuries, you should seek professional medical attention as soon as you can.
If you can get out of the vehicle and move about without hurting yourself or placing yourself in danger, do so quickly. You want to take pictures and videos of the accident before other factors change the scene itself, such as weather, clearing crews or other drivers. In many cases, simply using your phone to document the accident is sufficient.
Once you document the scene as well as you can, you should seek out any witnesses and take down their testimonies, or record them with your phone. If the other driver willingly accepts fault for the accident, attempt to get this admission in writing or on a recording. On the other hand, if you believe that you caused the accident, you should never say this to anyone at the scene. This is not to be dishonest, but because you simply do not have all the facts yet, and in the course of gathering evidence you may find reasons to change your mind about your liability.
Your perspective on the accident is limited to your own experience, which is often subjective. If there are any businesses or homes in the area with security cameras, it is wise to obtain footage they may have of the accident to provide a more complete perspective.
If the accident involves a commercial vehicle, you should also obtain the driver's logs to see if he or she is overworked or otherwise under undue pressure that affected the accident.
Build a strong claim efficiently
The more evidence you collect at the scene, the more pieces you have to work with when it comes time to build your claim. Don't put yourself at a disadvantage by failing to document your accident in detail. Instead, take time to build a strong, well-documented claim to address all of your losses and protect your rights as you recover from any injuries caused by the accident.