A car accident is one of the most common causes of serious injuries and deaths in Washington. If you get involved in a motor vehicle accident in Vancouver, it is important to take certain steps to protect yourself and preserve your legal rights. One of the most critical actions to take is to preserve and gather evidence so that you can build a stronger claim.
The Other Driver’s Information
According to the Revised Code of Washington, Section 46.52.010, all drivers are legally required to stop at the scene of a motor vehicle accident that causes injuries, death or property damage. After stopping, a driver must exchange information with the other parties. At the scene of the accident, write down the following details about the other driver:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Vehicle year, make and model
- License plate numbers
- Car insurance information
If requested, the driver must also show his or her driver’s license. Other responsibilities after a car accident that results in injury or death of any person or damage to any vehicle or property include reporting the crash to law enforcement and rendering reasonable assistance to anyone who has been injured.
If anyone witnessed the car accident – including passengers inside either vehicle – talk to them and get their information. Write down their names and phone numbers. Ask if they would be willing to give a signed or recorded statement about what they saw, and let them know that an attorney may be contacting them further along in the claims process.
Use your cell phone to take photographs of the crash scene before you leave. Be sure to capture both up-close images of the vehicles and wide-lens shots of the entire scene. Take pictures of any relevant details, such as street signs, road conditions that may have contributed to the car accident, road markings, debris and the weather.
You can also capture important evidence by recording video footage of the scene with your cell phone. Make a note of any nearby businesses that may have surveillance footage of the crash, as well as any traffic cameras that you can see. If anyone present has dash cam footage of the collisions, get his or her name and contact information.
Police Accident Report
Calling the police is important even after a minor car accident in Vancouver, as it can lead to an accident report. The police will document important facts and information about your crash, such as the exact time, date, location and a description of events while they are still fresh in your mind. Your accident report may also include official photographs and a police officer’s opinion as to who or what caused the accident. Request a copy of this report in the days following the crash by calling the local precinct and giving them your police report number.
Medical Records and Bills
Go to a hospital immediately after a car crash to receive professional medical care. If you delay in seeking medical treatment, a car insurance company can use this against you to attempt to limit your financial recovery. Request copies of all medical documents, records, x-rays and bills associated with your car accident to use as evidence during a claim.
Insurance Company Correspondence
Keep all letters, emails, voicemails and other forms of correspondence between you and a car insurance company. Contact a Vancouver car accident lawyer before you speak to an insurance company. Do not give the insurance company a recorded statement over the phone, as this could be used against you. Instead, tell the adjuster that you will submit a written statement after speaking to an attorney.
Once you have collected as much evidence as possible, bring everything to the NW Injury Law Center for a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys. We can review your case for free and explain your legal options.