About 6 million car accidents take place each year in the United States, meaning that most drivers will get into a car crash at some point during their lives. It’s important you know that you, as a driver, can do a lot to prevent crashes by following the rules of the road and focusing on your surroundings; speeding is a major cause of car accidents (and is involved in 40% of all auto accident-related fatalities in the U.S.), and distracted driving is at play in at least 20% of all U.S. car accidents.
But even if you drive as carefully as you can, you can’t control other drivers. That means it also pays off to know who to turn to after a car accident and what you should do in an accident’s immediate aftermath. Regardless of whether you’re going to be filing an auto accident injury claim through an insurance company or hiring an accident injury attorney to file an auto injury lawsuit, there’s some information you should try to collect at the scene (assuming you don’t need emergency medical attention, of course) to strengthen your case. Here’s a checklist you can even print out and keep in your glove compartment so you won’t forget anything if you are in an accident.
Vehicle and Personal Information
If you’re going to be filing an accident injury claim or lawsuit, you’ll want to have as much information as possible about the vehicles and people involved. Be sure to jot down all of the following:
- The make, model and license plate number of any vehicle or vehicles involved
- The other driver’s name and contact info
- The other driver’s insurance company name and policy number
- The number of people in the other car (or cars) involved
- The names and contact info of any witnesses to the accident
- The names and badge numbers of any police officers responding to the accident
- Ambulance information
- Towing information
The Context of the Accident
The situations under which the accident occurred can also make a difference in the accident injury claim or lawsuit process. Here’s what you’ll want to record on that front:
- The date and time of the accident
- The precise location of the accident
- The directions all vehicles involved were traveling in
- Rough estimates of the speeds all cars involved were traveling at
- The weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Whether any of the cars were able to be driven away from the accident
Also remember the clichéd-but-true-statement regarding the comparative value of pictures and words. Use your cell phone camera (or a disposable camera kept in the car just for this purpose) to take photos of the damage done to both vehicles, any skid marks on the road, damage to the road, or other factors such as obscured signage that could have contributed to the accident.
Can you think of any other information drivers should take down after an accident? Add to this list in the comments.