The last thing you think about after an auto accident is all of the things you must do to build a personal injury case. This may be the only time you will personally have to gather vital information for your personal injury or property damage case without the assistance of an attorney. Rather than scrambling to find everything you might need, this checklist of things to do immediately after an accident will help you identify which information to collect and navigate the process of building a case and selecting an attorney.
1. Take lots of pictures
Today’s smartphones have the capability of taking high-quality pictures of an accident scene. The more pictures you take of an accident or dangerous situation, the better off you will be. Be sure to take pictures of:
- Any injuries you or loved ones have incurred
- The location of the accident (Signposts, storefronts, etc.)
- The other driver’s vehicle
- License plate numbers of vehicles involved
- Damage to personal property
- Insurance information, driver’s licenses, police reports, and other relevant paperwork
2. Backup your pictures to an external device or internet backup system
Even if you have taken all of the necessary pictures to build a case, these will do you no good if they disappear from your phone. Be sure to back up your photos to the Cloud; Google drives an external hard drive, your desktop, or another backup and recovery service. This will not only make it easy to share these photos with your attorney; it will provide you with peace of mind.
3. Obtain a copy of the police report or ask for the report number
There is nothing more frustrating than navigating bureaucratic red tape to obtain a copy of the police report of the accident. Having the report number will give you an easy point of reference to get a copy later, but having a copy of the report at the scene of the accident will make the entire personal injury or automobile accident case process easier.
4. Do NOT speak to an insurance company
Insurance companies will contact you within a few days of the accident. Before talking to any insurance company, you should first contact a car accident attorney. Remember that the goal of insurance companies is to settle a claim for as little money as possible. While these initial calls seem benign, they are likely recorded and can be used against you should you decide to go forward with litigation. Instead, inform them that they can speak to your attorney, provide them with the contact information, and let your auto accident attorney handle it.
5. Contact an attorney as soon as possible
The faster you enlist the help of an attorney the stronger your case is likely to be. Many people are reluctant to call a personal injury or automobile accident attorney because they do not want to sue someone. In reality, only four to five percent of personal injury cases in the US go to trial, the rest are settled out of court. An attorney can help you preserve evidence from your automobile’s black box, a store’s surveillance cameras or other sources. They can also guide you through the settlement process and ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.