If you have been injured in a car accident you will need to investigate and document everything so that you can file a personal injury claim. If you hire a personal injury attorney they will investigate the accident. Remember that personal injury attorney do not charge to take your case, instead they recover a percentage of your settlement only if they win your case. It is in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney before you investigate the accident yourself. Here are 6 steps to take to make sure you have all the information you will need to be fairly compensated for your injuries:
1) Take photographs of any vehicles involved in the car accident.
Following a car accident, do your best to get photographs of your own vehicle, and also the other vehicles involved. A camera phone will usually be high enough quality. There are many reasons to do this – photographs can be used to show an insurance company or a jury exactly how serious the car accident it was. They can be used to prove who was at fault it the insurance company denies your personal injury claim because of contributory negligence. A picture is worth a thousand words, so remember to take photographs and back them up.
2) Talk to the police officer who investigated the car accident.
A police officer will investigate the car accident and fill out an accident report. Get a copy of the accident report. However, the police officer will often have additional information not in the accident report. Ask him what he saw, who he talked to, who he wrote tickets to. If possible, have him sign a statement about his investigation.
3) Talk to witnesses who saw the car accident.
Speak to witnesses as soon after the accident as possible. Remember that the insurance company or a jury did not witness this accident. Your personal injury case will be stronger with witnesses who can testify as to what happened. Have witnesses sign a short statement about what they saw. Include as much detail as possible. How did the car accident sound? How fast were cars traveling? Who was at fault?
4) Take photographs of any of your injuries, if they are visible.
Car accident injuries range from catastrophic injuries to simple muscle strains. If your injury is visible, such as bruising or a cut, take a photograph to document your injury. These photographs can be used to show an insurance company or a jury how serious your injury is.
5) Obtain a driving history for the at-fault driver.
It is important to learn as much as you can about the at-fault driver. You can obtain their driving history through a private investigator or by hiring an attorney. If the at-fault driver has a history of causing accidents, or prior DWI convictions, you want to know. Your case is stronger if the at-fault driver has a bad driving history.
6) Find out why the at-fault driver caused the car accident.
Speak to other people who saw the car accident, including the at-fault driver. Find out if he or she was texting or talking on the phone just before the accident. Find out is he or she had been drinking or under the influence of other drugs. Find out if he or she was obeying traffic laws, or speeding. Find out if his or her vehicle was working properly.
It is recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney to investigate your car accident. Whether or not you hire an attorney, these 6 steps will ensure that you have all of the information necessary about your car accident to file your personal injury claim.
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James Minick is a criminal defense attorney in Asheville, NC and is the owner of Minick Law, P.C.