Evidence You Should Preserve After an Accident
Getting into a vehicle accident can be an incredibly stressful and scary experience. In the aftermath of a crash, even a relatively minor one, most people are not thinking about gathering evidence. The first priority in the aftermath of any car accident must be to secure medical assistance for anybody who has been injured. Most vehicle accidents must be reported according to California law, so calling the police must also be a priority. However, if you are able to safely do so at the scene of a crash, gathering evidence is important and could be immensely beneficial in any insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Evidence From the Scene of the Accident
As we discuss the type of evidence that you should try to gather at the scene of an accident, please understand that you should only do so if you are not injured and the car accident scene itself is stable. If you have sustained serious injuries or if the car accident scene is dangerous, gathering evidence may not be possible or recommended.
- Using your smartphone or other device, take photographs of the entire accident scene. This includes any damages to the vehicles involved, any injuries, causes of the crash, weather conditions, traffic conditions, and more.
- Driver information. You need to obtain the name, address, driver’s license number, vehicle plate numbers, and insurance information of any other driver involved in the crash.
- Passenger information. If there were passengers involved in any of the vehicles, you should also get their names and contact information.
- Witness information. Similarly, if there were any witnesses to the car accident, you should get their names and contact information as well.
Evidence of Damages
While any photographs you take at the scene of the crash will provide good evidence that can be used in an insurance case or lawsuit, you should also keep all records related to car repairs and car rentals. This will include estimates or actual repair bills.
If you have made any recent improvements or repairs to your vehicle shortly before the accident occurred, you should obtain and keep this documentation as well. For example, if your vehicle was totaled in an accident, but you recently replaced all four tires or other expensive components of the vehicle (engine, transmission, etc.), this could increase the value of your total insurance settlement.
If you were injured in the accident, keep all evidence related to your injury expenses. This includes hospital and doctor bills, prescription medication expenses, and more. Also keep documentation of any lost income if you cannot work while you recover.
Keep Filing Deadlines in Mind for a California Car Accident Case
Every state is responsible for setting a timeline for how long victims of car accidents have to file lawsuits against alleged negligent parties. This timeline is called the statute of limitations. In California, car accident victims have a two-year window with which to file a personal injury lawsuit against an alleged negligent driver. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe will likely result in the victim being unable to recover any compensation. However, the deadline to file a claim with your insurance carrier is going to be within a day or two after the accident occurs. Failing to file a report with the insurance carrier could result in the carrier denying a claim.
Speak with a San Francisco car accident attorney to review your case and determine eligibility for compensation.