Specific to a car accident, regarding evidence collection, there are some guidelines for what you should immediately do. Most of the cases that come my way are cases in which ambulances are called to the scene — the people that have been involved in the accident aren’t just walking around collecting evidence. So they’re probably too woozy to know what to do.
First and foremost, take care of yourself and the other people. Once everybody’s safety has been assured or taken care of, then call 911 immediately. And the two might be intertwined, of course — call 911 because somebody’s hurt. Either way, you want to call 911 directly after attendance and above all else, request your report specifically. Now, if you’re not mobile and you’ve been so significantly injured that you can’t get up or you’re not conscious, or whatever the case might be, then take care of yourself first and foremost.
The best thing that you can do at the scene of a car accident to prove your ability to collect evidence at the time is have a little portable, disposable camera in your glove compartment. Put it in your car, put it in your wife or your husband’s car, put it in your kid’s car.
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My firm actually has portable, disposable cameras with our name and address and number and a list of things that you should do at the time of an accident. But in light of the fact that not everybody here is going to have access to that, my first bit of advice would be to go out and get one for yourself and put it in every car, have it ready to take photographs.
If you are mobile, you’d also want to take photographs, of course, of the property damage to both cars. Any cuts, scrapes, bruises, everything of that nature. If it appeared that — for example — if the air bags went off, you want to take pictures of the air bags. If the air bags didn’t go off, and they should have, you should take pictures of the lack of air bag deployment.
The other thing you should take a photograph of — again, this is why the camera’s so important — is the accident. The debris from the accident around the scene. Now, obviously if it happens on the freeway or something like that, you can’t get out on the freeway and take photographs of it. But if you’re in a reasonably low-traffic area, try and get as close to the debris as you can. If you can’t, just take photographs of the scene area. If it’s at an intersection, it looks like there might be some dispute as to who is at fault — take as many photos as you can of the debris so it will show where the impact’s location actually was.
And always, always, always call 911, report the accident, tell them — if they ask you if you’re injured and you’re injured, tell them that you’re injured. Do not hold back that information. If you don’t know if you’re injured, if you feel kind of like you’re in shock, you’re not sure — let them know “You know what, I might be injured, I don’t know. Please send somebody now, because we need assistance.” A police report and the lack of a police report is the number one reason that an injury claim may languish in the claims process and in the court system for years. Because there is a lack of third-party or objective witness evidence of who was at fault and what the injuries were.
What About Using My Camera Phone?
Camera phones are okay. However, the only problem with camera phones sometimes is the level of quality that you get from them, and the fact that sometimes the uploadable format is problematic from your phone to the attorney’s computer. An analog photo from a portable camera still in most cases is better quality and is going to capture the evidence better than a camera phone. But if you’ve got a camera phone and that’s all you got, absolutely. Take as many photos as you can. So, first and foremost, do that now — before the accident — so you’re prepared. At the time of the accident, all the things you typically hear that you should do, you should do.
A Partial List Of Things To Remember Once You Pull Over
- Get all the information on the individual
- Proof of insurance
- Person’s full name
- Person’s full address
- Car registration
- Information of the car
- License plate as well as the driver’s license number of the driver
- Make a note of how many people were in the other car, if any
- Get the names of everybody else who was in the car, because they’re potential witnesses
- Identify whatever witnesses outside of the parties that were involved in the accident
Final Words Of Advice
Above all else, make sure to get a police report.