Immediately following your collision, pull off the road to an area away from moving traffic – but only if you are able to do so safely. If not, remain where you are. If anybody involved in the collision needs emergency medical attention, call 911 to have an ambulance sent to the scene to bring him or her to the emergency room. Always put your health and safety as well as that of the other people involved in your accident first.
But what if your accident is not an emergency situation? Whether it is or is not an emergency, the next steps you take will determine how easy it will be for you to recover from your injuries both physically and financially. If you have been injured in a car accident, you can seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. But in order to do this, you must be able to produce proof that you were injured because of another party’s negligence and that you suffered specific monetary damages as a result of the accident. After any accident, follow the steps outlined below to ensure that you obtain the critical pieces of evidence that will support your claim.
Call the Police
After calling 911 for emergency medical services, call the local law enforcement to have an officer sent to the scene. This may be a municipal police department or the state highway patrol. The officer will file the official police report for your accident, which outlines all the details of the accident. These details include:
- The date of the accident;
- The time of the accident;
- The weather conditions at the time of the accident;
- The make, model, color, and license plate number of each vehicle involved in the accident;
- A diagram of the accident;
- The exact location of the accident;
- Whether any laws were violated during, due to, or to cause the accident;
- The names and other identifying information for the individuals involved in the accident; and
- The damaged areas of each vehicle involved in the accident.
As you can see, the police report for a car accident is quite detailed. This is the information that provides the framework for your personal injury claim. Do not leave the scene of your accident without obtaining a copy of the official police report and contact information for the attending officer in case he or she needs to testify about your claim later.
Collect the Necessary Documentation
There are other pieces of evidence you will need to obtain before you leave the scene as well. These pieces of evidence include:
- Photographs of the accident;
- Insurance and contact information for all other parties involved in the accident, particularly the negligent party; and
- Contact information for any witnesses to the accident. This includes contact information for any property owners whose surveillance cameras might have caught images of the accident.
South Carolina is a “fault” state with regard to car accident claims, which means that if you are injured in a car accident, you must seek compensation through the negligent party’s auto insurance provider, rather than your own. This is why it is critical that you have the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, policy number, and his or her contact information before you leave the scene of the accident. Do not accuse him or her of anything or behave aggressively during this interaction – simply ask for his or her contact and insurance information and offer yours in return.
Seek Medical Attention for your Injury
After you leave the scene, seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as you can. This is the last part of building the pool of evidence you will need to support your claim. Documentation showing that you received medical treatment not only shows that your injury was an urgent need, but that you have medical bills showing the dollar amount that you spent on your injury.
Work with an Experienced Columbia Personal Injury Lawyer
After you have sought the medical attention you need for your injury, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer about pursuing compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. When you go to your initial meeting with your lawyer, bring the documents discussed above to give him or her the information necessary to analyze your case and determine the best way for you to proceed with your claim. To get started on your case, contact Joye Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation with one of the experienced personal injury lawyers on our team.