Even if you believe that your car accident was relatively minor, you still should make sure to collect evidence as soon as the crash happens. Photographs of the accident scene and any property damage or injuries can help you establish damages later if another driver or an insurer contests your claim. Also, witnesses who saw the accident and the events leading up to it can help corroborate your side of the story. Both physical evidence and memories can fade over time, which makes it essential to act promptly in building your claim.
Assuming that your injuries do not prevent you from taking photographs, you should take pictures with your phone of the scene from various angles. You also should photograph debris from the collision, skid marks, and other visual evidence of the crash. Another important part of the accident scene is any stop sign, traffic signal, or other traffic control device. Taking a photo that includes the device can show who had the right of way and where the accident happened in relation to the device.
Photos after a car accident may illustrate:
Debris from the collision
Road conditions or obstructions
Traffic control devices
Each driver’s perspective
Perhaps the other driver has claimed that they could not see your vehicle properly from the angle at which they approached it. You can take photos from the perspective of the other driver to undermine this argument and show that the visibility was better than they are arguing that it was (if it was).
Photos of the vehicles, including close-ups of any damage, can help prove the extent of your losses and illuminate the mechanics of the accident. You should also take photos of any injuries that you may have suffered.
Each driver involved in an accident is legally required to stop at the scene and exchange information with the other drivers. (Failing to do this is a hit and run, which is a crime.) If a driver does not stop, you should try to get their license plate number and notify the police. If they do stop, you should get their identification and contact information, which you can find on their car registration or insurance card if they do not have their driver’s license with them.
Other people who were not involved in the crash, such as pedestrians in the area or drivers of other vehicles, may have seen what happened and may testify on your behalf. You should get their contact information as well. They may be able to confirm your assertion that the other driver was at fault or contradict an argument by the other driver that you were at fault.
If you report the accident to law enforcement, you may be able to use the resulting police report as evidence. Even if you do not agree with everything in the report, you should get a copy of this document, which is a public record. The report will contain the officer’s assessment of who was at fault for the accident. While this determination is not conclusive, especially since the officer probably did not witness the crash, it can be very persuasive.
A driver may request a copy of the police or DMV report from the law enforcement office or DMV, respectively, or from the insurance adjuster if a claim was filed.
If your state requires drivers to file accident reports with the DMV, the other driver will need to do this. You should get a copy of their report as well as your report. The other driver may have reported something to the DMV that clashes with the story that they gave to the police or the insurers. These conflicts can help you show that the other driver’s version of events should not be credited.