When a person gets into a car accident, he or she can suffer major physical, psychological and financial harm. If another person’s negligence caused the accident, a victim has the right to seek full compensation for all of his or her losses.
Getting help from an experienced, knowledgeable Florence car accident attorney will be an essential step in the process. However, taking immediate steps at the accident scene can be crucial as well. We suggest that you check out our Car Accident Checklist and consider the following:
First Steps to Take After a Car Accident in South Carolina
As soon as a car accident happens, it is important that you:
- Stop your vehicle in a safe location. The first thing that you should do after a car wreck is to pull over to a safe location that is out of traffic’s way and turn your vehicle off. You should not leave your vehicle in the middle of the road unless it is unmovable – doing so puts you at risk of being hit by another vehicle.
- Check for injuries. Next, you should check for any personal injuries that either you or your passengers have sustained. Knowing as many details as you can about these injuries will be important when you report the accident to the authorities.
- Report the car accident. Once you are in a safe location and have checked on your passengers, dial 911. You should report always report an accident that results in injuries or property damage. In fact, South Carolina law requires you to report, within 24 hours, any collision that results in vehicle damage of $1,000 or more. If you fail to report the car accident, you will be in violation of the law and may face penalties. When speaking with the dispatcher, try to stay calm and provide accurate, yet concise answers about your location. The dispatcher may instruct you to stay on the line until emergency help arrives.
- Gather information about the accident. As you wait for emergency personnel to arrive, take the time to gather critical information about the car crash. You will need to have this information on your side when it comes time to pursue your claim.
What Type of Information Is Essential to Gather at the Accident Scene?
Most people think they just need to exchange information with the other driver, and they will be good to leave the scene. However, being diligent about collecting evidence at the scene of a car accident requires much more than that.
Information you can gather at the accident scene includes:
- Name and contact information of the other driver. If you do not get the name of the other driver at the scene of the accident, you should still be able to get it later from the police report. However, if possible, get this information on your own.
- Other driver’s license and insurance information. It is not enough just to get the name of the other driver. You should collect as much information about that driver as you can. Take photos of their driver’s license and registration as well as insurance information. You will need this information at a later date.
- The make and model of the other vehicle involved. If you have a camera or cell phone camera with you, you should also snap pictures of the make, model and license plate number of the other vehicle involved.
- Pictures and notes about damages to all vehicles. Use your phone to take as many pictures as you can of any external damage to all vehicles involved in the accident, including your own vehicle. Take pictures of internal damage as well. Internal damage – for instance, the presence of beer bottles – can provide important information about how an accident occurred.
- Pictures of damage to all property other than vehicles. Often, it is not just vehicles that are damaged in a car accident. Other property is harmed as well. For example, a traffic sign or light pole may have been hit, or a fence may have been destroyed. Take photos of this to help you – and your personal injury lawyer – figure out what happened in the crash.
- Pictures of objects at the scene. You should also take photos of the car accident; skid marks on the road, a lost tire or pieces of tire tread, debris from broken headlights, fallen branches, a pothole or other road defect that may have contributed to the occurrence of the accident.
- Photos of street signs, landmarks and traffic signs. Taking photos of street signs, landmarks, and traffic signs is important for two reasons. First, doing so provides a way to identify the location of the accident, which can be helpful if you or your lawyer needs to return at a later date to gather more evidence. Second, certain signs or landmarks may be indicative of how an accident occurred or who may have been at fault. For example, a stop sign at the corner of an intersection where a crash occurred may indicate that one of the drivers involved did not come to a complete stop or failed to follow rules regarding proceeding at stop signs.
- Evidence of time, date, weather and traffic conditions. If the accident occurred in the early morning hours, a lack of lighting may have contributed to it. Or, if the accident occurred when traffic conditions were horrible due to a holiday, this may have been a factor as well. If the accident occurred while it was raining, were all drivers operating their vehicles at a speed that was safe for conditions? Take photos of the sky and traffic to establish the conditions.
- Witness information. Finally, talk to any witnesses at the scene of the accident and make notes about what each of the witnesses saw and heard. Then, get the witnesses’ names, contact information and permission to contact them in the future if necessary. Act fast: Witnesses will not stay long at the crash scene.
Medical Evidence Will Be Important to Your Auto Accident Claim
Every piece of evidence that you gather at the car crash scene can be important. However, important evidence will need to be gathered once you leave the scene, including:
For instance, you should take photos of your injuries as soon as they occur. If your injuries are in a location on your body that is hard to photograph, ask a trusted friend or family member to help you. These photographs may be presented as evidence when pursuing a fair settlement in your car accident claim.
You will also want to hold on to all records of doctors’ notes, instructions, prescriptions, appointments, bills and anything else that speaks to the treatment that you have received or will receive in the future. This evidence will be used to:
- Prove that you have suffered injuries
- Show the extent of your injuries and what future implications those injuries may have on your life
- Demonstrate that you have suffered economic losses.
Doctors’ notes can also be used to demonstrate other economic losses such as lost wages because of a doctor’s order that you do not return to work. Medical records can also establish the pain and suffering you have experienced.
Injured in a Car Accident? A Lawyer Can Help You
Gathering all of the above evidence can be time-consuming. It may even be impossible to do if your injuries are serious. Once you have the evidence, of course, you will need to know how to use it in order to pursue compensation.
This is where an experienced car accident lawyer comes in. A lawyer can gather evidence on your behalf and use his or her knowledge of how to organize and present evidence in a convincing and compelling manner. For those who have suffered serious injuries or economic losses, this assistance can be essential.
Contact a Florence Car Accident Lawyer Today
Do not leave things to chance after a car accident occurs. While you may assume that everything will work out on its own, the truth is that they rarely do without the help of a car accident lawyer. For representation that you can trust throughout the process of seeking compensation, contact Jebaily Law Firm. Our consultations are always free, so reach us now by phone or online.