If you’re filing a claim for personal injury in California, you generally have two (2) years from the date of the injury to file a claim, with a few exceptions. If you are injured in a car accident, your immediate…
The Most Critical Information to Gather After a Car Accident
No one gets into their vehicle and expects to be involved in an accident. Car accidents nonetheless happen on a daily basis throughout the state of California. In many cases, people involved in car accidents sustain serious injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Even in less serious accidents, victims often experience significant pain and incur thousands of dollars in property damage to their vehicles. Fortunately, when motor vehicle accidents are caused by the negligence of others, victims are often able to recover financial compensation for their losses through a California personal injury claim.
Such recovery does not happen automatically, however, and car accident claims often require a significant amount of evidence to prove negligence and accident-related losses. There are several types of information victims should gather after an accident in order to preserve potentially important evidence and protect their right to recover. The most critical information to gather after a collision is discussed below.
Get Information from the Other Driver or Drivers Involved in the Accident
California law requires people who are involved in accidents to exchange information with the other drivers. In addition to being required by law, collecting information from the other drivers involved ensures that victims will be able to file a claim against the correct party or parties who were at fault for the accident.
The kinds of information that should be documented include the following:
- The names of the other drivers involved in the accident;
- Driver’s license numbers;
- The vehicle identification numbers (VIN) of the other vehicles involved;
- The addresses and contact numbers of the other drivers;
- Insurance company and policy information.
It is important to remember that after a car accident, most people are upset, angry, confused, and may even be in significant pain. For this reason, if you are able to ask the other drivers involved in the accident for this type of information, it is important to remain patient and give them time to regain their bearings after an accident has occurred.
Secure Contact Information from Anyone who may have Witnessed the Accident
It is also important for accident victims to obtain contact information from anyone who may have witnessed the accident occur. In many cases, drivers can have significantly differing accounts of how an accident happened and eyewitness testimony can often help resolve these kinds of disputes. In addition to talking to people who may have witnessed the accident, victims should also look around and see whether any businesses or homes in the area have surveillance cameras that may have captured the accident taking place.
If cameras do exist, it may be possible to obtain the footage in order to determine how exactly the accident occurred. Even if a business or homeowner is reluctant to turn over the footage, there are ways in which an experienced personal injury lawyer can compel the production of evidence relevant to a particular case. Having video footage can serve as concrete evidence of certain acts of negligence and can eliminate discrepancies between witness accounts.
Take Photographic Evidence of the Scene and Aftermath of the Accident
The fact that a majority of adults now carry a phone that is also a digital camera has made documenting the aftermath of an accident significantly easier than it was in the past. If you are physically able, you should take photographs of anything you believe may be relevant to the way in which the accident occurred.
Relevant photographs may include the following:
- Your vehicle;
- The other driver’s vehicle;
- Your visible injuries;
- Damage to guardrails or other objects;
- Any roadway hazards you believe may have caused or contributed to your accident;
- Tire marks; and
- The general layout of the roadway where your accident occurred.
Examining photos can not only help piece together what happened, but also paint a clearer picture of the collision for a jury should your case go to trial.
Note any Relevant Details Regarding Your Surroundings
While not as high-tech as using a digital camera to gather photographic evidence, anyone involved in an accident should also make notes about specific surroundings they believe may have contributed to the way in which the accident took place.
Examples of the kinds of things worth noting may include;
- The weather conditions at the time of the accident;
- Any observations regarding the other driver or drivers that may be relevant to their mental state at the time of the accident;
- Traffic conditions at the time of the accident;
- Whether there were any traffic signals in the area; and
- The road conditions at the scene.
Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
After law enforcement arrive on the scene and interview those involved and those who witnessed the collision, they will enter information into an official police report. The report can not only provide important details but also may include a statement giving the officer’s opinion on who was at fault in the accident. You should obtain the report and ensure it includes an accurate portrayal of what you said. If it does not, you can request to have the report amended.
Contact a California Car Accident Law Firm Today to Discuss Your Case
After a car accident, you should be focusing on your recovery, not trying to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. The skilled car accident attorneys at GJEL are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of our clients and work tirelessly to ensure each client we represent gets the full and fair value of their claim.
Our firm has recovered more than $850 million on behalf of our clients and has been successful in over 99 percent of the cases we’ve taken. To schedule a free consultation with one of our California car accident lawyers, call our office today at 866-218-3776 or send us an email through our online contact form.