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By: Murphy & Murphy

What Evidence Should I Gather At the Scene of a Car Accident?

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Is It Safe to Collect Evidence at the Scene of a Car Accident?

If you have been injured in a car accident, then chances are good that you will want to seek compensation for the damages you suffered. Our legal system allows you to sue a negligent party in order to hold them accountable for the injuries and damages you incurred. However, it isn’t enough to simply claim that the other party caused the accident and your injuries. To win the case, you need to prove that they were at fault.

The best way of doing this is by collecting enough evidence to back up your claim, and the best place to gather evidence is at the scene of the accident. However, it is important that you stay safe while gathering evidence since any additional injuries you suffer could be argued to be your own fault rather than the other driver’s.

Some safety tips to keep in mind while collecting evidence at the scene of a car accident are:

  • Worry about your own safety before anybody else’s; if you are injured, get medical treatment yourself before attempting to help others.
  • Wear reflective clothing, if possible, so you are easier to spot.
  • Determine where blood is coming from if you must apply pressure to prevent somebody from bleeding; if it is coming from the ears or mouth, do not apply pressure.
  • Do not move people or evidence except where it is necessary to do so to prevent further danger.
  • Always take more photos than you need, ensuring, too, that all four sides of each involved vehicle are photographed; inform the authorities of what you are doing, and avoid photographing victims or bodies.
  • Most car crashes happen on the road, so remember to keep an eye on other motorists and stay out of their way.
  • If it is dark out, use a flashlight or your phone for increased visibility.

The best evidence is always going to be collected from the scene of the accident. It can be hard to collect evidence after the fact, too, but that doesn’t mean you should never risk your health to gather evidence. If you are injured in a car accident, then there is a chance that you won’t be able to collect evidence yourself. If possible, have a friend or family member gather evidence for you.

However, this isn’t always possible. If you have to make a decision between getting medical care or collecting evidence, you should always go with medical care. For one, this shows that you took your injuries seriously. If you decided to focus on evidence over medical care, the other driver could argue that your injuries weren’t so bad but that you made them worse by being negligent about your health.

What Type of Evidence Should I Look For?

If you are unsure of what evidence you should be looking out for, it is always a good idea to just take photos of everything. You can always delete useless photos later, but you often can’t go back to take more.

Evidence you should be on the lookout for at the scene of a car accident includes:

  • Skid marks
  • Bodily injuries
  • Property damage
  • Traffic control devices
  • Road conditions
  • Road obstructions
  • Debris from the crash
  • The perspective of each driver
  • Eye witness testimony or their contact information to get their account later
  • The police report on the crash
  • Medical records that deal with your injuries
  • Accident reports
  • Nearby road signs
  • Security cameras that could have had an angle on the accident

Always try to collect as much evidence as possible. You don’t get the full story from any one piece of evidence on its own, except for perhaps security camera footage of the accident. For example, skid marks might tell us a little about how fast a car was going and when the driver finally started to brake, but this is only one small component of the whole. If you want to be able to tell the full story, you need as much evidence as you can get.

What Does it Take to Win a Car Accident Lawsuit?

You need to show that the party you are suing caused you to negligently suffer an injury in a car accident. Legally speaking, this means proving four components are present.

  1.  You suffered an injury. As simple as that, pretty much any medical record can prove you were injured in some fashion. Sometimes the other party will raise doubts about an injury, but usually not the existence of the injury itself.
  2.  That injury was from the car accident in question. This is the easier way for the defense to attack your injury. They admit that you have an injury but argue that it was from another cause. Proving the injury was from the accident is much easier to do if you seek medical attention immediately following the accident.
  3.  An accident occurred. Again, most of the time, this isn’t really in question, though it can be.
  4.  That accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness. Of all these components, this is the one that is usually fought over the hardest.

Proving each of these points is a matter of having the right evidence. Accident reports, medical records, police reports, photographs, eyewitness accounts, videos, skid marks, and all of that are what it takes to win.

Who Should I Sue Following a Car Accident?

You will typically sue the driver of the other vehicle. However, in truck accidents and commercial vehicle accidents, you may find that it is better to sue the company rather than the driver.

The specifics of your accident will be the determining factor in deciding who to sue, and it is best to consult with an attorney moving forward.

When Should I Contact an Attorney?

You should contact a car accident attorney as soon as you finish getting medical treatment. If there is a long waiting period, you may even consider contacting them while you wait. The closer to the accident, you start working with an attorney, the better.