Knowing what to do after a car accident can save victims thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical treatment. Insurance policies help ensure that injuries resulting from negligent drivers are paid for, but if you don't have the evidence to prove it, the insurance company is not going to pay.
After a car accident, the evidence gathered at the scene is often the most important evidence that can be used in later litigation. It is important to gather all the necessary information so that you can provide your insurance company and attorney with a full representation of the collision as well as damages to your vehicle and any personal injuries that may have occurred.
What evidence should I gather?
- Exchange insurance information with other parties involved
- Gather contact information from witnesses to the accident
- Details of medical treatment, if applicable
- Pictures or video of the scene, vehicle damages and injuries
- Police report
- Accident report
- Insurance statements
It is important to exchange insurance information with any other parties involved in the car accident. This information is vital both for settling an insurance claim and in future litigation. You should also make sure to gather the full names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident, as they may have important information either in addition to, or in corroboration with, your knowledge of the facts. Taking your own photos of the scene of the accident, including the surrounding area and damaged parts of your vehicle, are important to the success of your claim or lawsuit.
If you sustained injuries in the accident, retain all information you receive at the hospital or doctor including records of your visit, treatment given, medications that were prescribed, work and activity restrictions, and any other relevant information. Also, request a copy of the police report, accident reports and any insurance statements given.
Are the police necessary?
There are certain instances in which you must report your car accident to the police and failure to do so can have serious consequences. Failure to report a car accident in California can result in a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months of imprisonment and/or up to a $1,000 fine. In California, you must report a car accident to the police if the accident:
- Resulted in injury to, or death of, and person; and/or
- Resulted in property damage
If the car accident resulted in the injury of, or death to, any driver, passenger or pedestrian, you must report the accident to the police. Also, if the car accident resulted in damage to property such as your vehicle, another vehicle, or to real property, the police must be made aware of the crash. In California, you must report the accident to the police in which the accident occurred, unless in an unincorporated territory, in which case you must report to the California Highway Patrol.
California law dictates that accidents must be reported to the police without unnecessary delay. In addition, a written accident report must be submitted to the police within twenty-four hours of the accident. Gathering all the necessary evidence and reporting the accident to the police are important steps to ensure the success of your insurance claim as well as any future litigation. An attorney can use this evidence to help you recover compensation for injuries and damages to your vehicle.
Those who need a free case evaluation can contact the Orange County car accidents lawyers at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates. They've helped victims recover over $1 billion and provide a no win, no fee guarantee.