Car accidents, even minor fender-benders, are often a traumatic experience. In the best of cases, the accident can be life-altering. Vehicle repair, injury, lost wages can have a serious impact on the victims, and determining fault is paramount.
Gathering evidence after the accident occurs is important, even when it seems the other driver is at fault. The assumption that the truth will prevail can easily result in a devastating outcome. Substantiation is vital to a car accident court case or when filing an insurance claim.
1. After the Accident
After the accident, check with anyone involved in the incident if an ambulance needs summoning. Contact the police, even in a minor accident, and remember to request an accident report to add to your evidence file.
After emergency medical attention is determined, gather the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any potential witnesses or accident victims.
Request permission and record any statements the witnesses wish to make. Also request the witness’s name, current address, phone number, and time and date of their video statement.
Also, photograph or document the driver’s licenses of those involved and the vehicle’s license plates. Doing both may seem redundant, but backup records in case of problems are never a waste of time.
If they use the other vehicle for business, check if there is a dashcam present. Many gig drivers for companies such as Uber or Lyft mount dash cams to record the interior, and sometimes exterior, of their vehicles. These can be valuable sources of evidence, even if the vehicles were not in the accident itself.
Also, remember when gathering insurance information, if the driver is on the job for his company, request the contact information for his company and his direct supervisor.
Take photographs and videos of the scene itself to document road conditions, visibility, the location of any street signs or lights, and anything that may have influenced or caused the accident.
Capture the conditions of the vehicles and circle the entire accident when documenting the damage. Stand in place and take 360-degree videos of the environment in several locations. Do this before moving any vehicle or changing elements of the accident scene.
After the accident, consult with a lawyer on the legality of the footage you have taken. Many states vary on the use of such evidence and you may need to determine your legal rights when turning over such evidence. That said, gather as much evidence as possible and let your lawyer determine the usage. It is better to have it and not be able to use it than need it and not have any available at all.
3. Insurance Companies
Adjusters use video and photos when investigating a case, and often these elements help dismiss inflated claims and fraud. This evidence, coupled with eyewitness testimony, helps determine the responsibility and ultimate fault of the accident.
However, dismissing video and photographic evidence when out of focus or blurry is not unusual. We can understand all of this, as the most important time to gather such evidence is directly after an accident when you are suffering from the repercussions.
It is best to seek a photo and video specialist who can test and determine any enhancements needed to be done to the video and photographic evidence.
Cell phone data records are an important piece of evidence needed to determine if the at-fault driver was on their phone or texting while driving. Your lawyer would gain these records, and sometimes, use them to invalidate any such claims of fault brought against yourself.