By nature, car crashes can be intense and stressful. There can be a lot at stake: repairing your car, paying for medical expenses, and adjusting to life after the accident. If you’re involved in a car crash, it’s critical to record what happened, no matter who is at fault.
As defined by the Illinois General Assembly, the party at fault is the person who caused a dangerous accident resulting in bodily harm, death, or property damage. Whether it was you that caused the crash or if another driver was negligent, you should keep records for your protection.
After an accident, there are essential steps to take to ensure everyone’s health and safety and secure a path forward for any insurance claims or lawsuits to come. It is important to follow them, but keep in mind you should not admit fault for the crash, even if you think you are responsible: let the evidence show it, but never own fault.
First, call 911 to report the crash if you are able. Getting medical care is essential, and the police should respond to the crash, begin a report, and take statements. The police may not respond to crashes without injuries and less than $1,500 in damages.
If you can move around the scene, get photographs of any vehicles involved and property damages that may have occurred. These will help any investigations get a clear sense of what happened, as memories can be faulty. If you cannot move or will be taken from the scene, ask someone else to take photos.
If you see anyone who may have witnessed the crash, speak with them and get their statements. If they have to leave before authorities can arrive, get their contact information.
After a crash, several types of evidence can be used to ensure you’re getting the best insurance claim or lawsuit settlement possible. We’ve discussed a few already, but knowing what to get and where to look will help make this process smoother.
There is some evidence readily available immediately after the crash and will likely be cleared out soon after it happens.
As mentioned above, law enforcement representatives will respond to crashes that result in injuries or property damage over $1,500. They will fill out a report, and you can request a copy through their office. Reports will have diagrams of the crash scene, statements from the parties involved and any witnesses questioned at the scene. Some reports may have causes of the crash included if they’ve concluded their investigation.
Eyewitness testimony can be valuable to a driver’s case, no matter who is determined to have caused a crash. If you can find someone who saw the crash and will talk, ask them some questions. What did they see? Where were they when the crash happened? Could you tell if anyone was driving distractedly? Questions along those lines will help determine how helpful their testimony is in your case.
Suppose there’s a large group of eyewitnesses. In that case, it may be best to prioritize whom you talk to first: someone who was closer to the accident or was there the whole time will have more value than someone who didn’t see it firsthand and only wandered into view after everything settled down.
Along with photos of damaged vehicles or injuries you received, you should be aware of any videos taken at a nearby business that may provide a clear view of the crash or events leading up to the crash. While eyewitness accounts may be questionable because memory is faulty, recorded evidence is vital in any car accident case.
Now that you have the evidence in hand, you’re prepared to file a claim. If that claim gets denied, you can move forward with a lawsuit. The best way to get the most money for your trouble is to have irrefutable proof. Insurance companies often work to keep payouts low, and evidence can help get the maximum compensation.
Even if you are the at-fault driver, having a record of the accident will benefit you. Illinois has a comparative negligence clause: an injured party may recover damages only if they are less than 50% responsible for the injury or damages. Any compensation may be reduced by the amount they’re determined to be at fault. Having a record of the crash can keep the insurance company from taking advantage of your insurance.
In addition, memory can be faulty, and as a result, stories change. Recorded evidence will help keep stories straight and help move investigations along.
The aftermath of a car crash can be stressful. With so many moving parts to track, bills and expenses to pay, and adjusting to life after a crash, all while dealing with insurance companies, having an attorney can make the process easier.
The experienced Chicago car accident lawyers at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., can help you. Call our office at 312-736-0763 or use our online contact form to schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation.