How to Investigate a Car Accident for Your Personal Injury Claim
If you’ve been involved in a car crash, it is important to perform your own investigation of what happened, regardless of whether or not the police perform their own investigation. If you do not, you can be at the mercy of an insurance company’s investigation that may find you at fault, even if you were not. If you’ve been injured, you have even more reason to investigate the accident, so you can recover personal injury damages from the at fault driver. Here’s how to perform a proper investigation:
1. Take photographs
Immediately after the crash, take photographs of all the vehicles involved (not just yours) and the area where the crash occurred. If you are too injured to take photos, have a friend or a witness take them. Your camera phone is perfectly high enough quality to get good photographs. Take close up pictures of any vehicle damage, as well as further away pictures of the entire crash scene. You can use these later on in your personal injury claim to prove exactly what happened, and exactly what your injuries are.
2. Talk to witnesses
Get the names and phone numbers of witnesses who saw what happened. Don’t rely on the police to do this, they often miss important witnesses. If you do not have time to speak to the witnesses at the scene of the crash, get their names and numbers and contact them shortly after the crash when they still have a good memory of what happened.
3. Call the police
Make sure the police arrive and fill out an accident report. This report, although often inaccurate, will be a very helpful document of what happened. Insurance companies routinely rely on accident reports to make decisions about whether to admit fault, and how much to offer in a personal injury settlement. The report will be available at the police department a few days after your accident.
4. Look for cameras
Go back to the accident scene a day or two later and look for any cameras that could have caught the accident on tape. Gas stations, banks, and shopping plazas often have cameras that have a view of the road. If you find a camera that may have caught the crash on tape, ask the store owner if you can make a copy.
5. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer if You Need One
Once you have all of the investigation photographs and documents and names of witnesses, you’ll need to decide if you need a personal injury lawyer to help you argue your case. Whether or not you do, you will have all the information necessary to argue your side of the case without fear of an insurance company misrepresenting what happened in the accident.