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Forgot to Collect Evidence After a Car Accident? Next Steps

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Posted on September 11, 2023

Car accidents are terrifying and traumatic. While you’ve probably heard of the importance of taking post-accident photos and adding the contact information of eyewitnesses, taking pictures of the accident scene, and fumbling with your phone may be the last thing on your mind while you’re helping other accident victims or dealing with a great deal of pain yourself. After a serious accident, you may be unable to reach your phone. You may even be unconscious and unable to do anything but wait for help. In some cases, the crash damages a cell phone and makes it unusable.

Documenting an accident scene and damaged vehicles with photographs and collecting evidence at the scene is a fantastic way to provide crucial evidence for a car accident claim. But what happens if you forget to take photos or you’re unable to use your phone after a serious car accident?

What Are the Next Steps After a Car Accident If You Didn’t Take Photos?

While photos taken immediately after an accident are important evidence, it isn’t the only form of evidence used to show who was at fault for the accident. In fault-based insurance states, tort law requires accident victims to prove liability on the part of an at-fault driver. In some cases, liability could lie with a third party such as the manufacturer of a defective brake system or a lax road maintenance agency.

To prove fault, your San Diego personal injury attorney may be able to photograph the involved cars at the impound lot where emergency services stored them, and also photograph the scene of the accident, such as an intersection or highway entrance ramp. Many other forms of evidence also help prove liability in car accident claims including:

  • Traffic camera or dashcam videos
  • Surveillance videos from homes or businesses near the accident scene
  • The police report
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Photos of skid marks or a lack of skid marks in the road where the accident occurred, taken within a day or two of the accident
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts

Any of the above forms of evidence can help support your testimony about the accident and prove fault. While the constant presence of cellphone cameras near at hand in recent decades has given rise to a greater reliance on photographs snapped immediately after an accident, it’s still possible to make a compelling case with other forms of evidence so you can recover damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.

What Photographs and Other Evidence is Important After a Car Accident?

It’s often weeks or even months after a car accident that you and your attorney must navigate the legal system to get a payout on an insurance claim. A small percentage of cases require litigation in court when insurance companies fail to offer an acceptable settlement. Taking photos and collecting evidence preserves the accident scene as it was immediately after the accident, making it easier to prove fault and document the damages.

After a car accident, if you can safely use your phone—or hand it to an uninjured person to use for you—taking the following steps can help your case later:

  • Take photos of the damaged vehicles
  • Photograph the accident scene, including anything relevant like an intersection, traffic signal, road signs, or skid marks in the road
  • Take photos of any visible injuries
  • Add the contact information of eyewitnesses and other drivers
  • Record a brief statement telling what you remember about the accidents and the moments before it occurred while the details are fresh in your mind since trauma may cause the memory to fade
  • Ask the police to send you a copy of the police report

Important evidence also includes the medical report detailing your injuries and prognosis, and any medical bills, receipts, and invoices.

A San Diego Car Accident Attorney Can Help Gather Evidence

Accident attorneys know how to thoroughly investigate a case to prove liability, with or without photographs taken immediately after the accident. Hiring a San Diego car accident attorney is an important step toward finding the key evidence you need behind your car accident claim.