Time passes quickly after a car accident. The shock of the experience may leave vehicle occupants unsure of their next steps. As soon as emergency responders arrive and traffic teams start the cleanup process, the whirlwind of events can leave anyone feeling confused. We’ve compiled this information to help you prepare for the unexpected and protect your rights in the aftermath of a car accident.
Why Document Car Accident Information?
Nevada law requires you to file an accident report after a car accident that results in injury, death, or damage to a vehicle or other property. But there are many benefits to documenting your car accident on your own in addition to filing an accident report. Here’s how you can help your accident case:
Reduce Errors and Ensure Information Is Accurate
Some people mistakenly believe law enforcement officers will take down all pertinent information related to a car accident. They will write down information, but they will use their own interpretation and driver statements to create their accident report. Officers are only people, and sometimes they get stories mixed up.
What’s more, the sooner you can write down what you remember about the accident, the injuries you may be experiencing, and other information, the better. That’s because anyone can forget key details soon after any event, let alone a car accident. Our memories can also deceive us after a while, making us think something happened one way when it really happened another way.
If you take the time to document as much as you can at the scene, you can correct any erroneous information later and provide proof if a legal claim arises. Gather as much evidence as possible to support your compensation claim, defend yourself, and hold any wrongdoers accountable for their actions.
Provide a Full Picture of Your Injuries
The police may document the injuries they see or that you report to them or an EMT. But you can also take photos of your physical injuries and write down symptoms that aren’t easy to see, such as:
- The type of pain you’re feeling
- Where the pain is coming from
- Whether you feel dizzy or nauseous
- If you have a headache or pain in your neck or back
- Whether your eyesight is blurry or your hearing is impaired
- Whether you feel out of breath or have a hard time breathing
This information can be imperative for your doctor to adequately assess and diagnose your injuries, which can help you recover faster and in full. This kind of information is also important for demonstrating how the accident and your injuries affected you, which your personal injury lawyer can use to prove your need for compensation.
Prove the Other Party’s Negligence
Nevada is an at-fault state for vehicle accidents, meaning victims of car accidents can file insurance claims and a lawsuit against the driver that caused their accident. However, the other driver(s) and their insurance company may try to blame the accident on you.
To combat this tactic, write down everything you remember about how the accident occurred, what you did, what the other driver did, and more as soon after the accident as possible. Your lawyer can use this information to verify the events of the accident and compare it to witness testimony, video footage, and other evidence to fight on your behalf.
Even if you were partially at fault for your accident, Nevada abides by the modified comparative negligence rule per NRS § 41.141. This rule states that someone who is found partially responsible for their accident can still recover a portion of their compensation reduced by their percentage of fault. Having your side of the story can help your lawyer prove that you deserve compensation for the other driver’s negligence.
How to Document Car Accident Information
If you’re reading this, we urge you to create an accident response kit to keep in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Keep a disposable camera, pen, paper, and documentation checklist ready to guide you through the accident aftermath.
Review this step-by-step list or download an app such as WreckCheck on Android and iPhone devices to help you gather relevant information. Take these steps to the best of your ability after a car accident:
- Make sure you, your passengers, and other drivers and passengers are okay. Take a few deep breaths, and check yourself for injuries. If you are seriously injured, do not try to move. Wait for or call emergency services to come to your aid. If you can move, see if anyone else involved in the accident suffered an injury. If safe to do so, move your vehicle out of the path of traffic while you wait for emergency responders and/or law enforcement officers.
- Exchange information with other drivers. Either take pictures of other drivers’ insurance cards or take down all of the relevant information. Make sure you retain all drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company names, insurance company phone numbers, and policy numbers. You may want to take a picture of all license plates and vehicles involved, too.
- Gather information from others at the scene. In addition to the information of other drivers, write down the information of vehicle occupants, witnesses, and professionals who respond to the scene. Write down the badge number and name of police officers and the name and company information of emergency responders. Make sure you understand how to access a copy of the accident report before you leave the scene of the accident. Reports take time to process, but you will need the information to file insurance claims and pursue any legal action.
- Take down as much information as possible at the scene. If you used a dash cam, secure the camera before leaving your vehicle to protect any evidence on it. Use your smartphone or a disposable camera to take pictures of the full scene, property damage, injuries, personal belongings in your vehicle, the road conditions, weather, license plates, and any other relevant information you notice. More photographic or video evidence is always better.
- Write out everything you can remember. As soon as possible, write down what happened. Try to focus on the facts instead of your opinions. You may also want to write down any initial symptoms you notice in the days after the accident. Memories start to fade and may distort shortly after car accidents, and this written record will help you recall the events as they occurred.
Frequently Asked Questions About Documenting a Car Accident
We know how scary and stressful vehicle accidents can be. That’s why we’re here to answer common questions about documenting a car accident in Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada.
How Long After an Accident Do I Have to File an Accident Report?
Nevada law NRS § 484E.070 requires that drivers involved in a vehicle accident that hasn’t been reported by a police officer must file an accident report within 10 days of the accident. If you don’t file the report within that timeframe, then you could lose your license for up to one year.
When you complete the Nevada DMV traffic crash report form, you must include:
- A copy of your insurance card;
- An estimate of repairs or total loss if you have more than $750 in property damage;
- A doctor’s statement of injury for each person in your vehicle at the time of the crash.
Do I Need to File a Police or Accident Report for a Minor Car Accident?
In a minor accident, it’s hard to determine if your vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle has suffered damage of at least $750. It can also be challenging to determine if you, the other driver, or a passenger have suffered any injuries in a minor accident.
That’s why it’s best to stay on the side of caution and report the accident at the scene, if possible. Doing so ensures that you and others involved in the accident can get assessed for injury and that your crash is documented in case you or the other parties want to file insurance claims or a lawsuit.
What If I Wasn’t Able to Gather Information at the Scene?
Some accidents can cause you to be unconscious or require you to go to the hospital right away. If that happened to you, here are the steps you can take to make sure your crash was adequately documented:
- Request the crash report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada Highway Patrol office, or the DMV.
- Have a friend or family member get the crash report for you or file the crash report in the case that an officer never came to investigate the scene.
- Have a loved one take photos of your vehicle and your injuries.
- Call a lawyer to handle these tasks and other information-gathering duties for you.
Why Is a Police or Accident Report Important in a Car Accident Case?
A police report links your injuries and vehicle damage to the car accident, which is important for filing a claim with your insurance or the other driver’s insurance. It’s also a vital link for filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Having a personal injury lawyer on your side can ensure you have all the information and proof you need to file an insurance claim or lawsuit to recover much-needed compensation after a car accident. While you focus on recovery, a car accident lawyer from De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers can focus on:
- Retrieving accident reports or helping you file one in time
- Collecting video footage, photographs, witness testimony, and other evidence of the crash
- Reviewing your personal statement of the accident or helping you write one
- Finding experts to fully investigate the cause and impact of the accident
- Handling insurance claims and communications with insurance companies
- Using your documentation to build a case against the negligent parties that caused your accident and subsequent injuries
Work With a Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyer Today
Car accident documentation can protect you from legal liability and protect your ability to obtain fair compensation. If you suffered an injury in a preventable incident, reach out to a Las Vegas car accident attorney as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation.