Car accidents are, unfortunately, quite common. Every year, anywhere from 20 to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries due to road traffic incidents. Jackson sees its fair share of crashes. The latest data published by the the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) last year lists the Mississippi crash fatality rate as 752 people per year. Countless others involved in crashes are lucky to be alive yet suffer debilitating injuries in their crashes. Their lives have little chance of returning to what it was pre-crash.
A loved one’s wrongful death stemming from a car accident can be both emotionally and financially devastating. Injuries can also be so debilitating and leave you with such crippling chronic pain and significant mental anguish that you warrant long-term medical care and become unable to work to support yourself.
Two of the leading causes of accidents here in Mississippi and elsewhere in the U.S. are speeding and drunk driving. If one of these factors, or something else, resulted in your or a loved one’s preventable car accident in Jackson, you may have a valid reason to pursue an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. The key to securing a settlement is building an airtight case. Here are some tips for collecting evidence after a car accident:
Collecting Evidence After a Car Crash
Collecting evidence after a car accident is crucial. It can make or break your insurance claim or lawsuit. There is no such thing as too much evidence. Sometimes, you, the participant in the accident, are the best person to collect this evidence. However, don’t be afraid to ask others on the scene to help you out. The most important tip for collecting evidence after a car crash is to act quickly.
Why You Must Act Quickly When Preserving Evidence in a Car Accident Case
Your safety and well-being are most important; however, if you are feeling well enough, you should use your time at the crash scene wisely and start preserving evidence then.
Doing this may not be possible if you’ve suffered debilitating injuries and are waiting for an ambulance to transport you to the hospital. However, this is when it may be helpful to enlist a capable passenger, bystander, or even a friend or family member to do the leg work for you.
If all else fails, you or someone acting on your behalf should begin collecting evidence as soon as possible after it occurs. Car accident lawyers like ours at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC will often have relationships with crash scene and private investigators who can help with accident investigations when their clients aren’t able to compile evidence themselves. A good rule of thumb that our personal injury attorneys like to follow when building our Jackson cases is that the sooner you collect evidence, the more accurate it will be, thus leading to a stronger case.
What Type of Evidence You Should Compile in a Car Accident Case
As suggested above, evidence can help you build a stronger case. If you’ve never found yourself in a position where your car crash has been so severe, though, then you might not know what evidence is most important to secure. In our experience, the following pieces of evidence can make or break a car accident case:
The Accident Report
Calling 911 to have a law enforcement officer come to the scene of your crash isn’t just facilitating communication between you and the other motorist involved in the accident. The police can certainly help with making sure there’s an exchange of information like:
- First and last names, addresses, and phone numbers of motorists
- Driver’s license numbers and vehicle identification numbers (VIN)
- Insurance information, including the carrier, policy number, and agent’s name and phone number
However, law enforcement officers serve a much bigger role than serving as an intermediary between you and another driver you were in a wreck with. Police officers must produce an accident report detailing a variety of factors, including:
- The location where, and time when, the accident occurred
- Weather and traffic patterns and road conditions at the time of the crash
- Whether they believe intoxication was a contributing factor to the accident
- A description and a rough drawing of the crash scene
- Whether they issued any citations on site
Insurance companies often use the information contained in this Mississippi crash report to determine who was at fault for the collision. If admissions you make that are reflected on this report or other evidence points to you being at fault, then an insurer may deny liability for the crash, meaning you may be unable to recover compensation for injuries and other losses you suffered.
Another critical piece of evidence in a car accident case aside from a police report is a witness account of what they saw. As referenced above, if you happen to be well enough that you can scour the scene after your crash while awaiting the police or ambulance’s arrival, then you’ll want to see if there’s anyone hanging around who witnessed the accident happen.
If you do find someone, then you’ll want to ask them at the very least for their contact information, including their name, phone number, Jackson area address, and email. You may want to also secure their Mississippi license plate number as a backup way of identifying them if none of the other options work when it comes time for them to provide their account as your legal case unfolds.
One step you may want to take if you have the equipment and time is to take an audio recording of what they have to say while still at the crash scene. Ask for a more factual account and a less emotional account of what they witnessed. Witness accounts can help build a solid timeline of your accident, which can come in handy in building a strong case.
Photos can be the most valuable evidence after a car accident. Be intentional as you photograph the crash scene, both your and the other motorist’s vehicles, your injuries, and anything else you may think could potentially be relevant in building your case.
When taking pictures of the crash scene, ensure the photos are from every angle. Capture pictures that show the road, weather, and traffic congestion as well. Make sure you zoom in and take close-ups so that every little detail is visible too.
Preserve Dash Cam and Surveillance Video Footage
Pairing photos with videos make for even better evidence when building a car accident case in Jackson, MS.
If you or another driver happens to have a dash cam in your car, make sure you export and save the footage of the accident as soon as possible. Some dash cams will wipe old footage after a certain amount of time. The accident footage will be valuable in building a case, so make sure you collect it promptly.
Also, take a slow video scanning the vehicles, road, any damaged property, and the overall scene, again from a distance and when zooming in.
Last, ask any nearby store owners or homeowners if they have security cameras that may have caught footage of what happened.
Recovering Losses After a Car Accident
Car crashes can be financially, mentally, and physically devastating. If you or a loved one were a victim of a car accident, you can give yourself the best chance of recovering a settlement at the conclusion of your case by amassing a wealth of evidence early on.
While it’s important to report your wreck to your insurance company after it happens, also keep in mind that an insurer isn’t your friend. Tread lightly when engaging in conversations with an insurance adjuster about your injuries or lack thereof and any potential liability issues when conversing with them.
Depending on the severity of the collision, you may want to get a car accident lawyer involved. One of our attorneys at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC can help you build a case necessary to recover the compensation you are entitled to under Mississippi law. Reach out to schedule a no-risk free initial consultation in our Jackson office with a member of our legal team to discuss your ability to recover financial compensation to afford the medical care you need to recover as best as you can from your car accident-related injuries.