How to Effectively Document a Car Accident
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
- 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
- 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.
How to Handle Your Head Injury Claim in a Car Accident
Automobile accidents are traumatic experiences. In addition to psychological and emotional damage—such as anxiety and fear of driving—they can result in minor, severe, and sometimes life-threatening head injuries.
As with other personal injuries caused by accidents, you may be eligible for compensation. But the first and most important step to making a claim is seeking the appropriate medical attention—which treats any injuries you may have and documents them to support your claim.
Focus on the Details
To effectively record your injury, provide your doctor as much detail as you can remember. Who was in the car? Where were you going? Was your car hit in the front, rear, or side? Did your head make contact with any part of the car or a loose object?
Statistics show that side-impact collisions have the strongest link to head injuries, causing the driver’s and passengers’ heads to shift side-to-side, often into windows and car frames. But head-on and rear-end collisions can also result in cranial injury, sometimes throwing unbelted passengers from the vehicle.
When in an accident, you may experience a closed head injury or an open head injury—both of which range in severity.
The most common type of closed damage is a concussion, or a brain injury caused by violent shaking. You may not notice symptoms right away, and sometimes, these delayed effects can be even more serious—leading to headaches, fatigue, temporary loss of senses, and depression.
Open head injuries are normally easier to diagnose on-the-spot, including lacerations and different types of skull fractures. This damage can be life-threatening, possibly leading to seizures and paralysis.
Filing Your Personal Injury Claim
To obtain compensation for your claim, you must provide evidence of loss. Your doctor’s diagnosis, photographs, police reports, and testimonials from witnesses must all show that the other driver’s negligence directly caused the accident.
In addition, these materials must also prove that the accident directly caused your head injury. This can be more difficult with concussions and closed damage, especially if you wait to seek medical attention.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and have sustained any type of head injury, please visit a doctor immediately. Once you are safe, reach out for a free consultation to discuss the next steps for filing your claim.
How to Handle Your Property Damage Claim in an Auto Accident
You’ve been involved in an accident. After receiving the proper medical care, you’re left to wonder: Who is responsible for the damage to my car?
For accidents that include another driver, that person’s auto insurance company may be responsible for damages—especially if he or she was at fault. If you caused the accident and have collision coverage, your insurance company will most likely take care of your vehicle’s damage and pay for the other driver’s repairs.
This process gets complicated when an insurance company refuses to accept liability for the damage. In the state of Washington, insurance providers are required to cover repairs that restore your car to the way it was before the accident. They must also assist with “loss of use” transportation while your vehicle gets repaired—usually in the form of a rental car.
What to Do If Your Car is Totaled
If your vehicle’s damage exceeds the car’s fair market value, the insurance company may declare it a “total loss.” In this case, you receive compensation for what your vehicle was worth immediately preceding the accident.
Sometimes, you will not agree with the insurer on your car’s value. To dispute the value with your own insurance company, you can hire an outside appraiser to evaluate the vehicle’s worth. If you’re dealing with another driver’s insurance company, you can use your collision coverage to file a claim with your insurer—and if you don’t have collision coverage, you have the right to contact an attorney for legal advice.
Filing Your Property Damage Claim
Immediately following the accident, be sure to exchange insurance information with any other drivers involved. Do not leave before law enforcement arrives to compile an accident report—you’ll need these details to process your insurance claim.
In addition to the police report, document every aspect of the accident . Jot down notes about the road conditions, how fast you were driving, and any potential distractions in the area. Take as many photographs as possible, documenting exterior and interior damage, and any personal belongings inside your vehicle—including jewelry, eyeglasses, laptops, and mobile devices.
These details will help form a strong foundation for your property damage claim. If you’ve been involved in an accident, please reach out for a free consultation to see if you are eligible for compensation.