What Can I Do to Preserve Evidence After an Automobile Accident?
After a car accident, your first priority should always be your safety. If you have been seriously injured, then you should remain where you are and wait for help to arrive. Only if you feel able to do so should you take steps to preserve evidence.
If you are able to, then the evidence you can protect could be massively beneficial to your car accident case. You should document the scene by taking photos of the vehicles involved and anything else of relevance, such as street signs, your physical injuries, skid marks, or potential CCTV cameras.
You should also ask for contact information from the responding officer and any potential witnesses. After you have left the scene, you can continue to preserve evidence by documenting your medical treatment and how the accident has affected your life.
In this article, we will go into more detail about how to preserve car accident evidence that could benefit your car accident claim. However, the best thing you can do to preserve your right to compensation is to speak to an experienced attorney.
At Chris Morrow, PPLC, we are committed to car accident victims in Texas. With a long list of successful cases to draw upon and an unparalleled approach to the attorney-client relationship, we will fight tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. We offer free consultation and work on a no-win no-fee basis, so you have nothing to lose by seeking legal representation.
Call us at 512-520-8100 for a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.
What do I do at The Scene of an Accident?
Before you start taking steps to preserve evidence, there are a few key things you need to do to prioritize everyone’s safety.
- Check for Injuries – The first step after a car accident is to check in with yourself for injuries. If you feel intense neck or back pain, you should remain where you are and wait for paramedics to arrive. If your injuries allow, you should check on others for injuries, starting with those in your car and then in the other vehicles involved in the crash.
- Call 911 – If anyone is injured, there is substantial property damage, or you have concerns about the other driver, then you should call 911 straight away. As well as paramedics, police will need to attend the scene so that they can file a report and mitigate any remaining danger.
- Move to Safety – If your injuries are not too severe, then you should move out of the way of any potential danger, such as oncoming traffic. However, you should remain at the scene of the accident until law enforcement has told you that you can leave.
What Can I Do to Preserve Evidence After an Automobile Accident?
From the scene of the accident to the investigation of your case and negotiations, you can take steps to preserve evidence and strengthen your claim. When you have the help of an experienced attorney, they will take over the entire legal process. However, if you can provide them with some information and evidence from your case, then it could help you to achieve a fair settlement.
If your injuries are severe, you should skip steps one to four. Instead, you should remain where you are and wait for the paramedics to arrive.
Step One – Document The Car Accident Scene
You should take photos and videos of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved. Some key things you may want to take photos or videos of include:
- A full picture of the scene with the vehicle’s positions.
- Your vehicle from all angles, pay particular attention to any dents, broken parts, and any minor details such as scratches.
- Any other vehicles involved in the crash from all angles.
- The other vehicles’ license tags.
- Photos from the scene such as skid marks, hazards, objects on the road, and any other damaged property, such as a wall.
- Any potential CCTV cameras.
Photographs from the scene are a great source of physical evidence. Try to take clear photos from different angles. Do this as soon as possible, before cars have moved out of the way if possible. However, never put yourself at risk of potential danger such as oncoming traffic.
It could also be helpful if you have timestamps on images, which you may be able to put on through the settings on your phone. However, don’t worry if you are not sure how to do this, and photos from start phones contain metadata that can be accessed if necessary.
Step Two – Driver Information
Ask all other drivers involved in the crash for their contact information. If possible, you should ask for the following:
- Full names.
- Contact information.
- Vehicle information, including registration plate, make, and model.
- Insurance information.
Step Three – Witness Information
If other drivers or pedestrians witnessed the accident, then you should try and collect their names and contact information. Your attorney may contact them to get a clearer image of what happened, and their statement could be used as evidence.
A witness may have seen the crash from a distance, which could have given them a different perspective on what occurred.
Step Four – Police Information
If you were in an accident that involved injuries or serious property damage, then police legally need to be called to the scene. The responding officers will also take steps to mitigate any remaining danger, such as arranging to divert traffic or clear debris from the road.
The police will file a police report, which is an important piece of evidence for your claim. You should ask for the responding officer’s name and badge number, as this will make it easier to track down the report later on
Step Five – Seek Medical Attention
After a car accident, you should seek medical attention even if your injuries seem minor. Adrenaline could be masking a serious injury, so it is important to make sure that you are safe. Your medical records will also be integral to your claim; without them, you may not be able to claim any damages.
The sooner you seek medical attention the better as it will be much easier for your attorney to establish that your injuries were caused by the crash.
Step Six – Keep Track Of Damages
Preserving evidence doesn’t end when you leave the accident scene. In order to have the best chance of securing a settlement that reflects all of your damages, you should continue to keep a record of them. Some of the ways you can do this include the following:
- Continue to take photos of your injuries and how they are healing.
- Keep a record of all expenses relating to your injuries, including medical bills, prescription costs, and transport to and from appointments. Where possible, keep invoices and receipts.
- Keep a record of all other expenses related to the accident, including lost income and property damage.
- Keep a record of how your injuries are affecting your life, including how much pain you are in, and whether they are preventing you from living your life as you did before. Your attorney will use this as evidence of your pain and suffering damages which should compensate you for your mental suffering and loss of enjoyment in life.
How Do Car Accident Lawyers Preserve Evidence?
Your attorney will use the evidence you collect to start building your case. They will also use additional methods to strengthen your claim, such as:
If the other driver was behaving erratically or displayed strange behaviors, then the police officer may have carried out an alcohol or drug test. Your attorney can find out the outcome of these tests.
A local attorney will have strong connections with experts that may be able to provide evidence to support your case. For example, an accident reconstruction specialist may be able to provide evidence for how the car crash occurred. Or if your injuries are ongoing, your case may require a medical expert to establish your future medical costs.
There may have been footage of the scene from traffic cameras, dash cams, CCTV, or home cameras. Where available, these are great pieces of evidence and your attorney will be able to view the videos frame by frame to determine how the accident occurred and whether the other driver broke the rules of the road.
Your attorney can request the driving records of the other party. If they have a record of dangerous driving behaviors, then it could help evidence your claims, especially if you have a clean driving record.
Cell Phone Usage
If the other party was using their phone when the accident occurred, then your attorney may be able to request their cell phone usage data from their phone company. If they were texting or on the phone, then they would have been guilty of distracted driving.
Car Accident FAQs
It is difficult to say how long your case will take, as each claim is unique. When you contact Chris Morrow, PLLC, for a free consultation, we will give you an idea of how long your claim may take based on its complexity. Some cases can be over in a few months if liability is clear and your injuries are minor, while others could take over a year.
If you believe that your actions may have continued to the accident, but the other driver was the main cause of the crash then you may still be able to claim compensation. Texas operates under a modified comparative fault doctrine which means that so long as you were less than 50% at fault for the accident, you can still make a claim.
However, if you are deemed to be partially at fault, your settlement will be reduced to reflect this. For example, if you’re awarded $300,000, but you are found to be 10% at fault for the accident, then your settlement will be reduced by 10% and will become $270,000.
The other party’s insurance company may try to unfairly assign fault to you in order to reduce their liability. Your attorney will prevent this from happening and will fight for maximum compensation.
You do have the right to make a claim without an attorney. However, without an understanding of the laws surrounding your case and the claims process, it may be incredibly stressful. In addition, those who do not have representation often end up with less compensation even after their legal fees are considered, thanks to the skills, experience, and resources an attorney offers.
At Chris Morrow, PLLC, you start with a free consultation. If we believe you have a valid claim, we will offer our services on a contingency fee basis. That means that we only get paid if you succeed in securing compensation as a predetermined percentage of your settlement. If your claim is unsuccessful, we will not receive anything.
Chris Morrow PLLC – The Attorney That Works!
Our managing attorney, Chris Morrow, has been helping car accident victims in Texas since 1994. We are proud to offer experienced representation to personal injury victims, utilizing a wealth of resources and a long list of successful cases to draw upon.
We will keep you informed about the progress of your case and will be prompt to answer your questions when you have them. Call us for a free consultation and find out more about how we can help.
Arrange a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer today at 512-520-8100.