What Information Should I Collect After a Car Accident?

Traffic collision report

Getting into a car accident can be an extremely jarring, stressful, and overwhelming experience, particularly if the accident caused serious injuries. However, knowing what to do in the moments following an accident can make all the difference in the world when it comes to determining fault and reaching a successful outcome in a personal injury claim. In some cases, it may be very clear who is at fault for causing the accident, which can make the claims process go much more smoothly. Other times, the injured victim may need to build a strong case to prove that the other driver was at fault. A successful car accident claim often depends on key information that is collected immediately following the accident, which will be used as evidence to support the victim’s claim.

Victims of a car accident should seek the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer.

What Steps do I Take Immediately Following an Accident?

After a car accident, it is very important to remain as calm as possible and avoid panicking. Understanding the necessary steps to take after a car accident can make the claims process go much more smoothly.

  • Check for injuries. If the motorist is physically able to do so, they should check themselves, as well as the other motorists, to determine whether they suffered any injuries. Someone should call 911 immediately to report the accident and notify the dispatcher if there are injuries so that an ambulance can be sent.
  • Move to a safe location. If a vehicle is creating a safety hazard where it is located and the motorist can move it to a safe spot, he or she should move it to the side of the road so that other vehicles can safely pass, turn the engine off, and turn the hazard lights on.
  • Call 911. Even minor accidents should be reported to police. Dispatch will also send an ambulance if injuries are reported. If the motorist’s vehicle was damaged and unable to be driven, he or she should call a tow truck. Roadside assistance insurance may cover the cost.
  • Exchange information. Once it has been determined that the passengers are safe, they should exchange the following information with each other:
    – Name and contact information
    – Driver’s license and license plate number
    – Insurance information
    – Make, model, and color of the vehicle involved
    – Location of the accident
    – Contact information of any witnesses
  • Take photos of the accident scene. This will provide important visual evidence about the events leading up to the accident, as well as who is responsible for causing the accident.

What Photographic Evidence Should I Collect at the Scene?

When taking photographs of the accident scene, motorists are urged to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Take pictures from different angles. It is important to take pictures of all four sides of the vehicle to capture all the damage, as well as any fluids that may be leaking from the car as a result of the accident.
  • Take photographs that provide a sense of scale. When taking a picture of a dent in the vehicle or any other property damage, holding an object such as a key or a wallet next to it can illustrate the size of the dent or scratch.
  • Take close-ups and pictures from farther away. If it is safe to do so, motorists should take a picture of their vehicle from at least 10 feet away so that the photo also includes the other vehicle. The driver should take additional pictures, moving gradually toward the point of collision.
  • Take pictures of the damage to the vehicle. This may include dents to the frame of the car, shattered glass, the deployed airbag, and flat tires.
  • Take pictures of the injuries. If the injured motorist is physically able to do so, he or she should take pictures of any cuts, scrapes, bruises, or any other injuries suffered because of the accident.

What Information do I Need to Collect?

When a car accident involves property damage and injuries, the injured victim may wish to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. For the victim to have a successful outcome for his or her claim, the victim must obtain as much evidence as possible to support the assertions being made. The following are the most important pieces of information that should be gathered after a car accident:

  • Police report. All car accidents should be reported, even if they are minor. However, when injuries are involved, it is crucial that police arrive at the scene as soon as possible so that they can talk to the motorists involved, assess the accident scene, speak to witnesses, and prepare a police report. The police report will include information that will be extremely important to an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, as it will often identify which driver was at fault for causing the accident. A copy of the police report can be obtained by contacting the local police department. The motorist may be asked to provide the date and location of the accident, the names of both drivers involved, as well as the badge number of the police officer who came to the scene.
  • Copies of medical records. If a motorist was injured in a car accident, it is critical that he or she seek immediate medical attention immediately following the accident. Even if the injury seems minor, the motorist should be examined by a doctor in order to rule out any underlying injuries that may not be obvious right away, including head injuries and internal damage. Copies of medical records should include information about every phase of the health care process, including the treatment, diagnosis, medications, follow-up treatment, and billing information. The following records are also important, but the motorist may need to request these records separately:
    – Emergency medical services, including the ambulance ride
    – Emergency room services, including X-rays, stitches, and surgery
    – Hospital admission
    – Prescription medications
    – Physical therapy
    – Chiropractic therapy
    – Treatment from a mental health professional
  • Records related to lost wages. When a motorist is seriously injured in a car accident, he or she may be unable to return to work for a period. In order to collect compensation for lost wages, the motorist will need to obtain copies of paycheck stubs, direct deposit reports, records of tips received, and any other documents that show the number of days of work missed because of the accident and the amount of wages lost. If the accident caused injuries so severe that the motorist is unable to return to work permanently, he or she may be able to recover compensation for the wages lost over time.
  • Estimates for the damage to the vehicle. If the accident caused damage to the motorist’s vehicle, they may be able to recover financial compensation for the repair costs. To accurately calculate the amount of money that the motorist can expect to receive, they may need to obtain estimates from several mechanics or body shops. If the accident was severe and the vehicle was damaged beyond repair, resources such as Kelley Blue Book can help determine the fair market value of the vehicle prior to the accident. All this information will be considered when determining a fair settlement amount.
  • Car accident journal. In addition to the evidence collected and the photos taken at the scene of the car accident, it is recommended that motorists keep a detailed journal about the accident. This should include a description of the accident, the events leading up to the accident, and what happened immediately following the accident. In addition, the motorist should include notes about any discussions that took place with the insurance agent or the other motorists involved in the accident. If the motorist was injured, they should keep a daily log describing how they are feeling, appointments with their doctor, recommended treatment, medication they are taking, and the number of days that they missed work because of the injury.

How can an Accident Lawyer Help?

The burden of proof in obtaining financial compensation for a car accident lies with the individual who is seeking damages. Car insurance companies know this and will do whatever they can to avoid paying a costly settlement. For example, if the injured victim apologized to the other motorist, this can be seen as admitting fault, and the insurance company can use this against the injured party during the claims process. A dedicated car accident lawyer will assist the injured motorist with every step of the claims process, collect the necessary documents, and negotiate with the insurance company to reach the best possible settlement offer.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Secure Justice for Victims of Car Accidents

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Knowing what steps to take after an accident can make the ordeal much less stressful and increase the chances of a successful settlement. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.