Filing a car accident claim and recovering damages is not always as simple as 1-2-3. If your injuries are substantial, or your claim is disputed – and they often are – you’ll have to be able to produce enough evidence to substantiate it. Without the foresight to collect evidence after a car accident, you’re going to have a difficult time proving your claim to the insurer or courts.
Our injury attorneys at Cordisco & Saile have more than 40 years of experience helping injured Bucks County car accident victims and their families. We know what it takes to prove a case and secure your rights to compensation. One valuable piece of advice we share with our clients right off the bat is this: Collect and preserve any all pertinent evidence as quickly as possible, right from the start, and retain it until your claim is resolved.
Evidence to Collect at the Scene of the Accident
If you’re not incapacitated or incoherent after the crash, you’ll want to do your best to collect any information about the other driver, witnesses and the scene of the accident. Below are some of the things you want to try to capture in evidence after a car accident:
- Photos – Take photos of videos of everything. Start with photos of the cars that show the damage. Take both close-ups and wide angles. Also, take a panoramic shot of the entire scene to show where the cars were positioned in the street. If there is debris, skid marks or other items involved in the wreck (guardrails, street signs, medians, trees, etc.), snap those, too. And take several shots of each in case some don’t turn out well.
- Driver information – The main things you’ll want to jot down about the other parties involved include their name, phone number, car make and model, license number, and insurance information (name of carrier and policy number).
- Eyewitness accounts – Eyewitnesses can provide solid testimony about an accident that can be very useful when fault is disputed. If any good Samaritans stopped to help, ask them if they’d be willing to share their name and phone number in case your insurer or lawyer later has a question about the accident.
- Police officer contact information – Regardless of the assumed severity of the accident, you always want to report a crash. Await police and provide them with the basic information that they request. Before leaving the scene, ask the officers for their business cards with names, department information and phone numbers.
- Notes – Shock and anxiety can interfere with your memory of the car accident, so take notes on important details, such as the location of the scene, the time of day and your recollection of how it occurred. If the other driver or witnesses made any statements, write those down, too.
Evidence to Collect after Leaving the Scene of the Accident
When you get home after the accident, put all the information you’ve collected so far in a file folder for safe keeping. Back up any photos you took on your phone, too, copying them to your computer or external drive. During the next few weeks while you focus on your medical treatment, filing your claim and fixing your vehicle, you’ll want to start adding the following evidence to your folder to share with your lawyer.
- Your vehicle – The vehicle itself is a piece of evidence, too. The insurer will want to send an adjuster to inspect your car’s damage. Have the damage assessed before attempting any repairs. If your car had to be towed, make sure to note the tow company’s name, contact info and the location where they will take your car.
- Medical bills – If you went to the hospital after the accident (and even if your injuries aren’t serious, you should always get a medical exam to be safe), put all your medical bills and receipts in the folder. These include the bills from the ambulance, emergency room, physicians, surgeons and prescriptions.
- Doctors’ prognoses – Continue gathering your medical records. Collect and save notes you take each time you visit the doctor, undergo any diagnostic tests and receive physician prognoses.
- Accident report – If the officer didn’t provide you with a copy of the report at the scene of the accident, obtain a copy and put it in your accident file. If the accident occurred in Bucks County, you can purchase a copy of the report at the Municipal Center or via mail. You’ll want to call the Records Department (215-750-3845) beforehand to make sure the report is available.
Evidence to Continue Collecting While Your Claim Is Processed
As your claim or lawsuit progresses, continue to collect any information that proves the extent of injuries and damages. To be compensated fully for your losses, you have to be able to show your expenses and how much your injuries have affected your life.
- Other receipts – Keep any receipts, bills, or estimates for expenses or losses that pertain to your injuries or the accident. This includes those for your medical bills; medical aids and assistive devices; pharmacy bills; lost wages; transportation costs to medical treatments; rehabilitation; hiring help around the house; estimates for vehicle repairs; and renovating your home or car to accommodate your injuries.
- Injury journal – When your injuries are severe or debilitating, it can be very helpful to keep an injury journal. Document how you feel each day, your pain levels, which treatments work and which don’t, and notes on how the injury impacts your life. Take photos of your injury and healing process, too. When trying to demonstrate the severity of injuries, photos and a journal can be extremely convincing.
Getting the Legal Help You Need to Prove and Win Your Case
The exact types of evidence to collect after a car accident can depend on the specifics of the accident. Your attorney can help you collect what’s required and ensure your evidence file is organized and comprehensive. If you’re in need of a car accident attorney in Bucks County, Cordisco & Saile LLC is here to help. Call our office at 215-791-8272 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at your convenience.