In some car accidents, you are in no position to gather evidence. If you are trapped in your car - no way. If you are bleeding profusely - no way. If the only person around is the other driver, and he is scary - no way.
Your safety takes precedence over doing on-the-scene detective work. But - if you are able to, you will strengthen your case for compensation if you or a passenger or a good Samaritan who witnessed the accident collects evidence for you.
What information you should collect
We suggest these priorities in the evidence you gather, either in writing or photos:
- Information about other drivers. Get their license numbers, their drivers' license numbers, their phone number and street address.
- Were there witnesses? Their perspective may be more valuable and unbiased than your own. Get their information, too.
- Anything relevant that you witnessed yourself. Whether the driver as driving erratically, as if asleep, or distracted, or drunk.
- Anything relevant to the crash. Many people take pictures of skid marks leading up to the crash.
- Note the road conditions. Was it raining or snowing? Debris in the road? Were the traffic signs and signals useful or confusing?
- What condition are the cars in? A photo showing that the other car clearly T-boned your car will be handy later.
More evidence at the ER
These are just suggestions for gathering information at the scene of the accident. Another bit of detective work would occur at the doctor's. Get X-rays. Photograph your wounds while they are still dynamic. (Photograph them again in the days ahead.) Get the doctor's opinion on recovery time and loss of function.
Maybe you can't do all this at the scene of the accident. Perhaps you need to be whisked away by ambulance. But if at all possible, have a friend, passenger, or even a witness to the accident take these notes for you. It could be critically important when you seek compensation.