The steps you take after a car accident can significantly impact your personal injury claim. Every year, six million people are involved in a car accident. Even if you haven’t been in an accident, it’s important to know what to do if it happens in the future.
Protect yourself by retaining a Duluth, GA car accident lawyer and following the instructions below.
Burden of Proof
First, it is important to understand that as the injured party, your Duluth, GA car accident lawyer is required to prove that the other party was at fault. After all, the alleged at-fault driver is not guilty until proven otherwise. You and your attorney must provide evidence to support those claims.
Evidence to show fault comes in many forms, including medical records, police reports, expert declarations, CCTV photos, and witness statements.
Evidence at the Scene
It’s very important to understand that you are not to begin collecting evidence until it’s safe to do so. If you lost consciousness, are bleeding, feel dizzy, or have any other symptoms, wait for medical personnel. Make sure a family member contacts your attorney to preserve the scene, if possible. Your health and welfare are the top priority; if it is not safe to move, wait for medical help.
If you can exit your vehicle, first call the police so a report can be made, even if the accident seems minor. The officer will interview you and the other party, as well as witnesses. Begin to take pictures while you wait for the police to arrive. Pictures are very important because they capture the damage done to the vehicle, injuries sustained, road conditions, location of traffic signals, skid marks, and property damage.
Make sure to also take pictures that capture the scene, which may require you to walk a distance from the immediate area where the accident occurred.
Write down or take a picture of the other party’s driver’s license, insurance card, plate number of their vehicle, make and model of the car, and any employment information if they were driving a company vehicle when the accident happened.
If there were witnesses at the scene, ask for any photos they may have taken, and their contact information should your attorney need a statement.
Follow Up Evidence
While the initial police report and accident pictures will help establish a claim, the amount of compensation you receive is contingent on the evidence you collect after the accident. These are primarily the medical bills you incur due to your injury.
After any car accident, even a minor one, you should be examined by a doctor to medically clear you. Only a doctor can determine that you are uninjured. It is common to not feel pain from injuries for 48-72 hours after the accident. This is due in part to the rush of adrenaline the body gets when an accident happens.
Alert your Duluth, GA car accident lawyer whenever you have a medical appointment. Copies of the medical record are provided to your lawyer every month unless there is a significant change. You also want to keep a daily diary of symptoms and medications. The severity of your injury, medications required to decrease the pain, and the length of suffering must be well documented to receive a fair settlement.
In addition to the injury, you will be compensated for the damage done to your vehicle. If you recently upgraded a component or purchased new tires, make sure to provide this documentation to your lawyer. If your car was totaled, the value of the car can be increased if you had recent improvements or custom items installed.
In addition to the evidence you provide to your attorney, your attorney can request documentation from the other party that can be used as evidence.
Interrogatories are a series of questions that must be answered under oath, typed out, and returned within a certain time frame. The other party must answer the questions truthfully and provide documentation that supports the claims.
Using interrogatories allows your attorney to discover the other parties’ state of mind or actions before the accident. If a party has been in previous accidents or was drunk when operating the vehicle, it can be included in interrogatory questions. This strategy is a great way of getting answers in writing that can be used later in trial or during settlement negotiations.
We’re Here to Help
The more documentation you can provide, the stronger your case is. Evidence is inherently impartial and can give the insurance company or the jury unbiased information.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, we have been handling car accident cases since 1988. Our priority has always been the health and wellbeing of our clients, and that includes fair compensation for your injuries. We’re proud of our community and work hard to help everyone that calls the greater Duluth, GA area their home. Please contact (770) 822-0900 so we can be there for you during your time of need.