The moments following an accident are crucial for the safety of victims and the preservation of evidence – memories are fresh, witnesses are still in the area, and security cameras may be active. Though it can be difficult to consider this in the aftermath of an accident, our San Jose car accident attorneys recommend doing so to protect you in the future.
If you are not injured and can physically examine evidence at the scene of the accident, start by taking photographs of injuries, property damages, and the accident scene. Take pictures of the surroundings as well; this will help the court contextualize the scene of the accident. Having pictures of your fresh injuries will help prove that your personal injury claim is serious, which is especially helpful in cases where insurance companies and defense attorneys will try to downplay your injuries.
Store these photos in at least two secure electronic locations to make sure you don’t lose them. If you collect any physical evidence from the scene, take a picture of it before removing it. Preserve this evidence in a safe place. If at all possible, keep the item in the same condition it was the day the accident occurred, such as a bloody shirt or a damaged car.
In the days after the accident, return to the scene and see if anything else jogs your memory. Try to visit the scene at the same time of day that your accident occurred. If you were in a car accident, try to visit during the same time and day of the week to get a good example of what normal traffic conditions are like. See if you can locate any additional evidence and take it home with you. Take more photographs during this visit and save them in a secure place.
In the moments following an accident, witnesses will often gather around the scene to offer assistance. If possible, ask for the contact information for these witnesses. They may have insight into the accident. You may even ask them to record their immediate reaction in case their memory changes. Save this information in a safe place and give a copy of the witness contact information to your attorney.
If you can, share this information with the police when they arrive.
When you suffer an injury in an accident, it is important to report the incident. Not only will this bring medical attention and police officers directly to your location, but it will provides you with a crucial piece of evidence: the police report. After the officer interviews you about the accident, always request a copy of the police report. Then, give it to your accident lawyer.
It is crucial to not admit fault to a police officer after an accident. Even if you do believe that you were at fault for the accident, you may not remember the facts correctly due to shock – or there may be evidence that you don’t know, such as the other driver using a smartphone or driving while intoxicated. You also don’t know the at-fault driver’s actual sequence of events and evidence can reveal other reasons for fault. Admitting fault will make receiving damages much more challenging. Be kind and respectful, but don’t apologize.
If you are unable to collect evidence immediately following an accident due to injury or shock, don’t worry. Your first priority is your safety. If you are not able to gather witness contact information or take photographs at the scene, hiring a personal injury attorney will help you obtain evidence and craft a compelling case. Additionally, an attorney can collect documentation, speak with witnesses, examine your medical records, and collect available evidence for use in your personal injury lawsuit.