If you are involved in an accident, it is critical to document as much as possible, including your observations, photos, eyewitness accounts, and doctor or health practitioner visits related to the accident. Whether or not you decide to hire an accident lawyer, this information will help to strengthen your case against the negligent party.
What To Do After a Car Accident?
If you are able, try to talk to everyone involved in the accident. Write down names, phone numbers, and insurance information for every driver. If the accident involves a commercial vehicle or car or truck, record the name of the company he or she drives for, and any contact or insurance information.
Try to identify any witnesses in case there is a dispute that goes to court. Write down their names and addresses and interview them on the spot, if possible, while the facts are still fresh. Ask them what they saw and take note of special expressions or phrases they use like “speeding,” or “he ran the stop sign.” Also, try to get the contact information for all emergency personnel that respond to the scene of the accident, because they are going to be important witnesses.
If at all possible, take notes at the scene of the accident. While it is still fresh in your mind, write down exactly what happened as soon as possible, and take pictures if you have access to a camera or cell phone with photo capabilities. Points to keep in mind:
- What were the weather conditions at the time of the accident? Was it rainy? Sunny? Windy? What kind of visibility was there?
- What were the road conditions like at the time of the accident? Was there heavy traffic? Was the road under construction? Were there obstacles – potholes or debris? Was it slippery? Was the view obstructed?
See a Doctor
If you are involved in an accident, seek emergency care or schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. There may injuries that are not readily apparent, so it is important to be examined as soon as possible after the collision. Also, you have the right to see your own physician or a healthcare provider of your choice.
In an accident or injury situation, time is of the essence. To properly establish the facts of the case, it pays to take pictures, if not at the scene, as soon afterward as possible. Pictures should include everything involved in the accident, including detailed pictures of the accident scene, with special attention to anything that may have been a factor in the accident and can be recorded on film, including:
- Visibility – distance and obstructions, with pictures showing where the accident began and where it ended
- Traffic conditions at the time of the accident, with pictures taken at the accident scene or at the same time of day during similar traffic conditions.
- Signs and markings, with special attention to traffic sign, construction signs, etc., and whether and to what extent they are obvious or obscured.
If you can, take pictures of your vehicle as soon as possible after your involvement in a large accident. Pictures of the damage are hard to dispute, and thus will help you and your attorney tell your story. If possible, take pictures any other vehicles involved in the accident as well, to show the severity of the impact associated with your collision.
Make sure to take pictures of your accident-related injuries before they heal! Collisions often cause bruises across the injured person’s chest from sudden jarring contact with the seatbelt. However, after a few weeks, bruises heal. When an insurance adjuster tries to argue that the injuries from the accident were not significant, photos of such bruises and other injuries will help show otherwise. Photos of such injuries are hard to dispute, giving you and your attorney solid and justifiable evidence in support of your claim.
Keep a Personal Journal or Frequent Notes
Make it a habit to take notes about the day-to-day effects of your injuries, such as how much it hurt to get out of bed, or the difficulties navigating the stairs in your home because you’re in a wheelchair or on crutches. This is important because as you are trying to get fully compensated for your injuries, insurance companies are trying to minimize their payments. As a result, insurance adjusters will typically try to minimize your claims and paint your complaints as exaggerated. Write down any associated medications prescribed, including pain medications. Such documentation can be critical to your case when presenting your personal injury claim to insurance adjusters or in court.
Keep Expense Records
You will need to provide proof of anything you claim as an injury-related expense. Make sure you keep all receipts for related prescriptions, health-related care, goods and services, and services for things you would otherwise provide yourself such as shopping, cooking and yard work, etc. Keep every accident-related receipt so you can document every expense.
In a 1999 study, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that injured people who use a lawyer receive, on average, three and a half times more money than those who do not! (Source: Insurance Research Council 1999 study).Without legal help from a personal injury law firm like Meinhart, Smith & Manning, you may have no idea of the real value of your accident claim.
The insurance company is not on your side.! Their goal is to minimize their costs by paying you as little as possible for injuries received due to the accident. Therefore, no matter which firm you choose, you need a tough, experienced accident attorney on your side.
Call Meinhart, Smith & Manning at (877) 776-1219 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today! There is no risk, and no cost to you unless we successfully settle your case or win your case in court. If you can’t come to us, we can come to you. Contact us online through our contact form