When you get into a car accident, time seems to slow down. This “slow-motion effect” comes from your memory kicking into overdrive, documenting everything. Unfortunately, once the adrenaline dies down, people often stop taking note of details.
While I sincerely hope none of you ever need this advice, the best way to handle a car accident is to be like your brain during that slow-motion period—document everything. Though compensation might be far from your mind, the success of your court case often hinges on the extent of your documentation.
If you’re ever involved in an accident, here’s what to do:
Get to Safety
Look after yourself and your passengers. If possible, move your car to the side of the road. Turn on your hazard lights, and if you have them, set up safety cones. If your vehicle cannot be moved, remain inside with your seatbelt fastened until help arrives.
Call for Help
If the damage to your vehicle is extensive, or if anyone is injured, call emergency services. Even if injuries are not severe, it can be beneficial to see a medical professional, who will begin a record. These records often help establish the details of your case.
Be sure to get the following information from any other drivers involved in the accident:
- phone number
- license plate number
- insurance provider and policy number
- driver’s license number.
If the driver of the car is not the name on the insurance policy, you will need the above information from both parties.
Write down a description of each car, including the year, make, model, and color, as well as the circumstances of the collision. It may also be helpful to include notes about road conditions, distractions, and the speed you were driving.
If possible, time stamp the photographs. Be sure to document:
• exterior damage to any vehicle involved in the accident
o Photographs are usually most effective when taken from all four corners of the car, so that two sides can be seen at once.
• the scene of the crash
o It’s helpful to include landmarks, so viewers can determine the exact positions of the cars involved.
• license plates of all vehicles
• interior damage
• any parts or debris that have fallen from either vehicle
• skid marks on the road or damage to the surrounding area.
File an Accident Report
Law enforcement officers may not respond to accidents unless there are injuries. However, you can still file a State Vehicle Accident Report, available at police stations or online here for Washington State.
Explore Your Options
The sooner you reach out for legal help, the better. If you’d like a free consultation, contact me and I’d be happy to review your case.
In the meantime, if you’d like more information and advice, follow this blog or sign up for my email newsletter. Stay safe out there!