When it comes to accidents, pictures and other forms of documentation are priceless. Over time, memories fade, stories may change, and damages or injuries not noticed right away can manifest themselves. Continue reading to find out how litigators and other experts feel about the importance of collecting all the information you can after an accident.
Documentation Helps to Determine Who Is at Fault
First off, at the time of the accident, it has not yet been determined if you are at fault. Unless a party admits at the scene, who is at fault is a question of fact, and the documentation will assist with determining that. Documentation such as photos of the vehicle, the location, and skid marks in the road can help determine who is responsible for the accident.
Even if the police arrive and make a report, they sometimes will not determine who is at fault. It is then up to your attorney to argue that you are not at fault, and the documentation will prove that.
If the fault is admitted at the scene and you are the victim of an accident, the documentation that you collect at the accident will help tell your story. An insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case, and they don’t know anything about you, the location, or how it happened. Photos of the scene, the vehicles, and of the parties will help tell your story of how the accident happened, and how and why it caused your injuries.
Attorneys and experts can look at the damage to the vehicles and determine the mechanism of injury. This helps your attorney argue on your behalf in proving your injuries were caused by the accident. It all comes down to how your body was thrown around and moved at the time of the accident. Only documentation can prove that.
Protect Yourself with Accident Photos
Regardless of whether you are the at-fault party or not in a car accident, it is important to document details of the accident to protect yourself later. Having multiple photos of the accident, any damage to the vehicles, any injuries, and anything that may have caused the accident is essential to proving what happened whether you are at fault or not.
Evidence Is Everything
Evidence, in a word. Victims, or Plaintiffs, generally have the burden to prove their case, so the evidence is everything. Whether it be pictures from the accident, medical records showing consistent medical treatment, or statements from a witness, evidence will make or break most cases.
Three Reasons Why Documentation Matters
There are several reasons to document a crash, whether you’re at fault or a victim. First, insurance companies often require documentation in the form of a police report and exchanged information. Pictures documenting the damage and the injury will also help your insurance claim.
Second, the full impact of a crash is often not realized until later. So, even if you think you were involved in a minor fender bender with no damage, you might discover that your bumper is cracked when you get home. Bumpers can easily cost $1,000, surprisingly. If you’ve documented the crash, you’ll have something to return to that proves a starting point.
Most states have a damage threshold of $500 to $1,000 for reporting to law enforcement. Even the most minor crashes can easily exceed those thresholds. So, you should contact law enforcement after every accident, no matter who’s at fault or how insignificant it is.
A third reason to document a crash is that stories change. The other party might try to change their story to get more out of your insurance or push the blame on you if the crash is their fault. Again, having documentation helps to ensure stories stay straight.
Collect Information at the Scene. Let the Law Determine Fault Later.
There are a few things you should always do after being involved in an accident and documenting what happens is a crucial action.
If you are the victim of the crash, you should get the contact information of everyone who could be considered a witness. Next, you should take notes about the accident, including but not limited to details of the vehicle that hit you, and take photos of your vehicle’s damage.
If you think you’re the at-fault driver, you should collect the same information from witnesses and make the same documentation about the accident. However, one thing to note is that you shouldn’t admit fault while at the scene. A statement like that could be used against you at a later time.
Tell Your Side of the Story
There are several benefits involved in documenting accidents, not only for both parties but for the overall safety of all employees who work at the same location.
A key focus of health and safety is to eliminate risk wherever possible – but it’s not the only one. For some industries, the risk is an inherent part of the job. In these circumstances reducing risk is essential, and it falls to all parties to make every effort to follow the procedure to make the workplace as safe as possible.
Documenting accidents play a key role in this process, and both parties have a duty, and a right, to outline what happened from their perspective. In creating a report of an accident both parties can clearly and concisely outline their actions step by step to determine the cause. These can be essential in helping investigators understand exactly what happened.
It can also help both parties to outline their actions and decision-making. This can help protect both parties and allow them to tell their side of the story, which could be invaluable when it comes to determining who is at fault and to what capacity.
Finally, reporting incidents doesn’t just help the parties involved. Insights collected from accident reporting are very important. They allow safety, security, environmental, quality, and facility managers to identify issues and where improvements can be made. In short, by reporting accidents, both parties can contribute to the development of a safer workplace for others.
Fair Treatment for All Involved Parties
What most people fail to realize with accidents is that, despite who was truly at fault and caused the accident, the laws may shift the responsibility to the other party. For example, if you’re in an accident where you’ve been hit from behind while stopped and are pushed into the car in front of you, you’ll be held responsible for the damage to the car in front of you.
There may be obscure laws that you’re unaware of which could cause the responsibility for the accident to shift, so documenting accidents is the most surefire way to ensure the fairest treatment for all parties involved.
Additionally, as human beings, our memories are faulty. Adrenaline rushes and high emotions can cause our memories to shift to cope with the outcome of what happened. Documenting the accident in the moments after it’s happened helps avoid faulty memories shifting blame inaccurately. It also protects both parties against malicious lies from the other party.
Documented Details Don’t ‘Change’
The main reason you need to document an accident, with the date, and time, is to ensure that the facts, as you see them, are recorded. The reason that is so important is that the other person, who doesn’t record the accident will probably try to change the details.
Granted your details will be deemed biased, but that is okay. You need to cement the details, as you see them, in your mind just in case the accident goes to court or you are called to testify under oath, in a courtroom.
Helpful for the Investigator
As long as you’re involved in an accident, your views are very much essential as they can complete the small details in investigation reports. You must get relevant details as you will always be a person of question in these kinds of situations. The fewer details you can give, the more you’ll become suspicious to interested parties.
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