When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident you will likely have a million thoughts going through your head, and not be able to focus on any one of them.
After the initial impact you will have some time to collect your thoughts, and perhaps those thoughts might turn to what evidence you should collect from the accident, in the event litigation needs to be commenced to recover damages for either the property, or for personal injury.
This three part series will provide information about the types of evidence you should collect, ranging from: basic information (part 1); more technical information that you can gather (part 2); and finally technical information that can only be gathered by a qualified expert (part 3).
Part 1 – What you should do immediately after a motor vehicle accident
If you are involved in a significant motor vehicle accident the police will most likely be contacted and, particularly if forensic testing of an incident scene is required, the officer in control of the incident scene should ensure that:
- the boundaries of the scene are clearly marked,
- all persons not involved in testing or examining the scene are excluded from the scene;
- the scene is not disturbed or contaminated unless to preserve life or protect property; and
- an entry/exit point to the crime scene is established.
To assist the police in undertaking their investigations you should ensure that you do not move your vehicle until directed by the police, or unless your vehicle causes a safety hazard to other road users.
Otherwise in less serious accidents where the policy do not attend, so long as you are not so injured that you require treatment by paramedics or emergency, you should do the following:
- Contact the police to notify them of the accident;
- Record the names, address, driver license number, and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident;
- Record a description of the car and license plate number for all vehicles involved – or take a photo of them using your smartphone;
- Record the other driver’s insurance company and the vehicle identification number of their car;
- Take photographs of the accident, including the damage to your car, the other vehicle/s involved, and any damage or markings to the road or surrounding area from the accident.
- Remove any hazards on the road from the accident, such as accident debris.
- Record a short description of the accident, including the date and time; road and nearest intersection; direction of travel; and weather conditions.
- If you have a dash cam, on arriving home immediately download and preserve the video.
- Your vehicle may need to be towed. Ensure you have the tow truck driver’s contact details and that you make arrangements to collect the car as soon as possible. In some cases, the storage yard fees can be quite expensive.
- If you hold comprehensive insurance, contact your insurance company,
It is important that you do not admit fault for the accident. If you have a comprehensive insurance policy, the policy will likely state that you must not assume responsibility or liability. If you expect the insurance company to take care of your claim, let them do the talking.