What To Ask For After an Accident
No one expects to get into a car accident, so knowing what information to get at the scene is critically important. Remember that insurance companies will require certain information to process a claim – so getting it at the scene is the best way to ensure you have what you need to get fair compensation.
Here is the basic information you should gather at the scene of a car accident if you are able to do so. Don’t hesitate to call a car accident lawyer from our team if you have any questions.
#1 │ Names of All Parties Involved
The obvious starting point is to gather the names of the driver – verifying the correct spelling. However, there may be additional people with relevant information about the car accident. If you can, it is a good idea to gather the name of any passengers in the vehicle, officers or first responders that are present and any potential witnesses that saw the accident. This information could prove vital further along in the process.
#2 │ Contact Information
This involves gathering the other driver’s address and telephone number. While the driver’s license may have an address listed, do not assume that address is current. Instead verify with the driver that the address on their driver’s license is the same one in which they wish to be contacted. The same goes for any passengers in the vehicle, officers or first responders that are present and any potential witnesses that saw the accident.
#3 │ Insurance Policy Information
In Ohio, drivers have an obligation to carry insurance at all times when operating a motor vehicle. After an accident, driver’s should exchange insurance information. Make sure to write down the policy number, the insurance companies name and any contact information on the card. If you have your phone available, it is smart to take a photograph as well. This information should also appear on the police report – if one is made.
#4 │ License Plate Numbers
It’s important to document the vehicle that is involved in a car accident – which is most effectively done by writing down the license plate number of every car involved. Later, this may prove vital in establishing ownership of each car involved in the car accident. Remember to get the license plate number for every car on the scene – including bystanders and witnesses. This information can be vital in a personal injury case down the road.
#5 │ Photographs of the Scene
Use your camera to document the damage to all the vehicles. Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster. So remember – If you can safely – take photos of the accident scene. The closer in time to the car accident, the more useful they are as memory tends to fade and conditions of intersections and roads can change. This is also useful to document the impact, the damage and the placement of vehicles in relation to one another. It also clearly shows the road conditions should that be an issue. Always remember that you should think safety first, and get out of the flow of traffic before pulling out your camera.
#6 │ Information about the Driver and Owner
If the driver’s name is different from the name of the insured, establish what the relationship is and take down the name and address for each individual. This could prove vital to your car accident claim down the road – especially if someone tries to later distance themselves from the situation. The law often considers statements made closest to the accident to be the most reliable – so make sure to get as much information as you can.
#7 │ Exact Location of the Car Accident
This information is often contained in an accident report – but it is still a good practice to independently note the location of the collision and how it happened. Drawings can be of assistance here – and the standard accident report form contains a box for a drawing for this very reason. This information can prove vital should you need to reconstruct the scene of the accident at a later date.
#8 │ Make a Police Report
As outlined above, after an accident, it’s critical to document everything you can remember. One of the best ways to do this is by getting the police involved. A police report creates an independent account of the aftermath of the event, which serves to protect vital evidence close to the time of the event. Police reports contain a number of vital pieces of information, and often times, a citation or perception of the officer can form the basis of determining fault.
Remember to never leave the scene of an accident prior to making a report, as it is often a crime. In order to get the most out of the police report that is generated, it is smart to cooperate fully and to tell the on scene officer everything you can remember about the incident, as well as a description of any immediately obvious injuries.
#9 │ Keep a Diary
We cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of maintaining a diary. This is nothing fancy and may simply be a 25 cent notebook. It doesn’t have to be kept everyday, or every week, but it is important that you keep it in an attempt to document your injuries and damages. You should backdate the diary and attempt to start it at the time of the accident, telling – in the greatest detail possible – what happened to you regarding the accident and the pain and suffering you endured immediately thereafter.
As you keep the diary, describe the effect that the injuries are having upon you and the pain and suffering that you are experiencing. Describe the activities that you cannot do, or cannot do as well as you could before your accident or injury. You should record your anguish such as worries you have on your mind about your ability to get well or the effects of your injury on your everyday living. Try to use visual and descriptive words. In other words, ”I was in a lot of pain today” is not nearly as good as “I was in so much pain today that when I reached down to pick up the sweeper I let out a groan and realized that I could not reach down to pick it up because of the pain.” This is what we mean by picture words. If somebody witnessed your pain or suffering, be sure to put down their name. For example, “Today I had to ask my friend to reach up in the cupboard and pull out the saucepan because I was unable to extend my arm upward above my head.” Use as many picture words as you can to describe your injuries.
#10 │ Call An Accident Lawyer
After following the other steps, it is important that you speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. There are a number of critical steps you want to make sure you take after an accident and only an experienced accident attorney will be able to advise you as to what those steps are. It will be highly dependent on the specific facts of your case so call us today for a free consultation.
About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a Toledo, Ohio based law firm representing clients in the areas of Personal Injury, Truck Accidents, and Car Accidents with lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, Michigan and Georgia.
Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan