Here are some things you can gather to help support your case:
If you are physically capable, photographs should be taken at the scene. Photographs of the position of the vehicles after the collision and before they are moved will be of immense aid later in the prosecution of your case. Further, photographs of any skidmarks on the roadway, damage to the vehicles and injuries to persons are of critical importance.
NOTE THE CONDITIONS
Pay attention to the weather, road conditions, and traffic conditions. If it is cloudy, make a note of it. Often claimants believe they will remember these things later, however, if you fail to make note of it early on it will frequently be the case that you cannot remember the details later on. Remember, serious motor vehicle collisions can take as long as two (2) years to navigate through the litigation process if handled appropriately. Many of the details from early on may well be difficult to recall towards the end of the case.
LOCATION OF THE ACCIDENT
Write down where the accident happened. The best practice is to note the street intersection, nearest streets, or even a landmark. If you are able to do so, draw a diagram of the accident with the relevant positions of the vehicles involved and their direction and speed of travel.
DATE OF THE ACCIDENT
The date of the accident is of critical importance as it will control the date that the Statute of Limitations expires for your case. If the Statute of Limitations expires you will not be able, under law, to pursue your claim.
MAKES AND MODELS OF ALL VEHICLES INVOLVED
License plate numbers (If possible the license plates should be among the photographs that you take.) Name and insurance info for the other party involved (This is critical. Be certain to obtain the names and insurance information for all parties involved in the collision. Even if there is a party whom you do not believe was responsible for the collision, but who was nevertheless involved in the collision, be certain to obtain their name and insurance information as well.)
Name of police department involved and police report number (if applicable) (This too is critical. Make sure that you have the police report number and appropriate department. There are many roadways and highways that have overlapping patrol coverage. The responding department to your collision could be the County Sheriff’s Department, the County Police Department, the State Police, local or city police or any number of Federal agencies, particularly if your collision happens in the District of Columbia. The accident report number alone will be of little use without knowing which agency responded to the scene and prepared the report.)
Driver – Once you have identified the driver, exchange information with him or her. Make sure that at the end of your exchange you have the driver’s name, address, phone numbers, employer’s info, driver’s license number, name of insurance company, and insurance policy number. Associate the driver with his or her vehicle by keeping track of the vehicle’s year, make, model, color, and license plate. If the driver makes any statements about the accident or his injuries, then promptly write them down.
Lastly, the driver is not always the owner of the vehicle. Make sure you look at the Vehicle Registration Card to see the registered owner of the vehicle and the insurance company. Witnesses – If there were potential witnesses to the accident, get their information as soon as you can. Secure their names, addresses, and phone numbers. Good samaritans may stop to assist you and will usually leave when emergency personnel arrive, so get to them quickly or lose them forever.
LISTEN AND STAY QUIET
Listen carefully to what people at the scene of the collision are saying. This will allow you to locate potential witnesses, as well as obtain information that will help you if you decide to bring a lawsuit. In particular, you want to listen to the other driver to see if he or she admits fault or says things that show he or she did something wrong – like driving too fast or not seeing you.
If you hear any helpful statements then promptly write them down. You should stay quiet at the scene of the accident as to how the accident occurred or relevant details likes the speed of the vehicles. Your comments will not be helpful to you and will likely be used against you when you are trying to resolve the case. Never admit fault for the accident as an investigation may show differently.