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Collecting and Recording Evidence After an Accident

After the shock of having a road accident has settled there comes the time to think about what is going to happen about damages and compensation. Usually what happens is either your insurance company, or the court will look at all the facts and evidence and piece together their conclusion of what happened. This conclusion usually comes from listening to witnesses, reading statements and looking at things like skid marks, vehicle damage and glass shatter patterns.

Collecting and recording evidence

Gathering Information

The person investigating what happened will definitely ask both the drivers involved in the accident what their side of the story is. If you are involved in an accident try and write a list of the most important things you can remember about being involved in the crash. If the accident wasn’t your fault these points could end up being your saving grace if they outline things the other driver can’t disprove. If you do manage to get these points down they’ll prove golden for your claim for compensation.

It's a good idea to always carry an insurance claim form in your cubbyhole. It makes it really easy to complete just after an accident has happened and allows you to jot down the details which will be far more accurate seeing as you’re still on the scene. You don’t have to worry about getting a statement from the other driver just yet. They don’t have to give you one at all actually, so don’t worry about that just yet.

Keeping a pen and paper in your car will mean you can get the names and addresses of the all the other people involved in the accident before they leave the scene. Also jot down the driver’s details and the registration number of the vehicle. Check this number with the number on the licence disc just in case.

With that same trusty pen and paper jot down the registration numbers of cars that are also at the scene of the accident. These people could end up being very useful if you need witnesses who can back up your side of the story. You may find that witnesses don’t want to get involved and don’t want to give you their details. The best you can do is take their vehicle registration numbers and leave it up to the traffic department to track down their details if they’re needed at a later stage.

Gathering Witnesses

Writing a list of witnesses is very important – it could help you claim the compensation you need. So at this point, don’t worry about taking statements from anyone, get straight on to writing a list of pedestrian witnesses and gathering their details if they’ll offer them up. Also, look out for ‘professionals’ (like taxi, bus or truck drivers) who were on the road at the time of the accident – they are often particularly useful witnesses.

Traffic 

In your notes write down what the flow of traffic is like. Record whether the road is busy or if cars are moving fast or slowly.

Weather

Jot down what time of day the accident has happened. Note what the visibility on the road is like. Is it good or bad? Note how close to street lights it happened if it is at night. Is the road wet or dry? Is it raining? Write it all down.

Vehicles

Take notes about the damage the accident has caused to property. This is an important snippet of information because it could show the cause of the accident. At the same time take down notes about any damage it seems the car had before the accident. Sometimes people try to pull a fast one and claim that certain parts of the car were damaged during the accident when they were wrecked beforehand already. Look for things like missing car parts and rusted dents.

Photographs

Taking photographs is a great way of capturing moments in time… and essential evidence. Don’t worry about getting a fancy camera for the photos, a cellphone camera will do! Take photos at the scene of the accident directly after it’s happened. Make sure you photograph the position of both vehicles in relation to one another as well as any other individual features that may be important. Things like road signs that are hidden because of an object obscuring them. The person who takes the photos may need to appear in court to verify that they took them.

Time to Sketch

This may seem elaborate, but every bit of evidence and information helps. Sketch out a plan of the accident scene using squares of paper to make the plan to scale.

Layout of the Road

On your sketch make sure you include the following:

  • Road names
  • Road widths
  • Positions and types of traffic signs
  • Freeways or dual carriageways
  • Pedestrian crossings
  • Bus stops

Mark on the sketch where there are any gradients or obstructions and mark what type of road surfaces were involved. Anything like roads that are covered with water, grease or gravel should be included. If you think it may have played a part in causing the accident then it should be plotted on the plan.

Direction of Vehicles

On the sketched plan indicate which direction the vehicles involved were travelling before the accident. You can do this by showing which direction the front wheels of the vehicle were pointing.

Point of Impact 

Find where the first point of impact was for both vehicles involved in the accident and then plot them on the map sketch.

Skid Marks 

When you’re on the scene make sure you measure how long the skid marks in the road are and then mark their position on the sketched plan. Skid marks tell us loads of things. They could tell us how fast a vehicle was going, what direction it was travelling at, and also where the vehicles collided.

Points of Rest

After a collision you can tell a lot about what happened by the way the vehicles have come to rest. On your sketched map mark what positions the vehicles are in in relation to other physical features. What is the vehicle close to and what direction is that?

Compass Points

Draw your map correctly according to the points on a compass and don’t forget to include a drawing of the position of north. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just an arrow with the letter N against it is all you need.

If you decide to sketch a plan of the accident, remember to do it quickly and accurately, you don’t know how much time you have left before the vehicles involved will be towed away.

Collecting and recording evidence is extremely important in order to paint a picture of how the scene of an accident unfolded. So if you’re prepared and manage to acting quickly and gather all the information you need there should be no worry in your mind that justice will be served.

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