How and Why to Document a Car Accident
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?
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.
If you take 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 own claim to compensation, defend yourself, and hold any wrongdoers accountable for their actions.
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. Print this step-by-step checklist 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:
- The immediate aftermath. 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 card or take down all of the relevant information. Make sure you retain all drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company name, insurance company phone number, and the policy number. 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.
Car accident documentation can protect you from legal liability and protect your ability to obtain fair compensation. Reach out to a Las Vegas car accident attorney as soon as possible if you suffered an injury in a preventable incident.