If you get involved in an accident, such as a car crash or slip and fall, it is important to know how to preserve evidence while you are still at the scene of your accident. Timely evidence collection is crucial for building a personal injury case against one or more parties to pursue compensation. Take the following steps to correctly document your accident.
Report the Accident
Start by reporting the accident to the proper authorities. Depending on the circumstances, this may mean law enforcement, emergency services, your employer, a supervisor or a property owner. Ask for an official accident report. This can record information about the accident while important evidence is still available. Provide a statement for the report that accurately describes what you remember. Write down a description of events for your own records, as well.
Talk to the People Involved
Look around the scene of the accident for individuals who were involved or may have been witnesses. This can include a motor vehicle driver, passengers, pedestrians, coworkers or customers at a business. Write down the information of everyone involved, such as:
- Phone number
- Job title (if at work)
- Insurance information
- Vehicle description
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- License plate number
- Driver’s license information
Ask witnesses if they would consent to providing statements regarding the accident. If so, write down their information to give to the police or your personal injury lawyer. They can obtain signed statements for you later during witness interviews.
Before you leave the scene of an accident, preserve evidence by taking photographs. Take plenty of pictures of the entire accident scene from multiple angles. Be sure to capture important details, such as property damage to vehicles, the position of the cars, road and weather conditions, road signs or traffic control signals, physical injuries, or a dangerous property hazard in a slip and fall accident.
Look for Video Cameras
Look around the area for video cameras that may have captured the accident on tape. This may include security cameras, surveillance cameras, traffic or road cameras, police body cameras, dash cams, or GoPros. If you find a camera, locate the owner and ask for a copy of the tape. You can also give the individual’s information to the police for assistance in obtaining footage.
Preserve Key Items
Do not move any part of an accident scene until the police arrive unless you need to for safety purposes. Accident reconstruction experts should be dispatched to the scene before debris and road markings can be cleared. Keep the clothes and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident. Physical evidence available should be properly documented by professionals, meaning collected, bagged and logged. Improper collection can make evidence inadmissible. Learn more here.
Consult With a Personal Injury Attorney
A personal injury law firm will have the resources, personnel and investigators to preserve evidence for you. A lawyer can return to the scene of your accident to search for things to support your claim, such as eyewitnesses, video surveillance footage and markings on the road. Then, your lawyer can piece the evidence together to build a compelling case on your behalf. Contact the Law Offices of John Phebus to start your injury case with a free consultation.