Being in a car wreck is scary. You quickly go from driving or riding in your car listening to the radio or talking to the person in the car with you to responding to an emergency situation that usually is loud, sudden, and dramatic. Your heart is racing, your adrenaline is running, and, in the aftermath, you need to know what to do.
If you are not immobilized and can get out of the car, the first thing to do is to check and see if anyone needs medical attention. If so, call 911 and follow the directions they give. Then, if you are not so severely injured that you cannot walk, the most important step you can take to preserve your legal rights is to document the accident.
Take pictures. Today, most people carry phones with cameras in their pocket or purse. If you do not have a cell phone with this capability, someone at the accident scene probably does, so use theirs. The point is to take pictures of the cars, especially the placement of the motor vehicles at rest after the car wreck, and the damage to them. If the cars can be moved, you will need to move them to prevent obstructing traffic, but it is OK to wait to move them for the ten to twenty seconds it takes to document how the cars were positioned and how they appeared after the motor vehicle accident. Take as many pictures as possible from many angles.
These pictures will be invaluable to the investigation of who is at fault. All too often, the driver who is apologetic for causing the accident in the immediate aftermath is much less forthright and honest after the cars are moved and the police have arrived. Your pictures can make all the difference in preserving your personal injury claim.
Of course, if you are too injured at the scene to take pictures, ask a witness or passerby to take some with your camera. I know it is a lot to think about after the trauma of being a participant in such a scary event, but it could make all the difference later when you try to collect the money owed to you by the other driver or if they come after you claiming you were at fault.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.