If you get into a car accident on the way home tonight, your first instinct (after checking to see that everyone is okay and nobody needs immediate medical attention), will probably be to pull out your smartphone and text or call anybody who is waiting for you to tell them what happened. However, you can put your technology to even better use than that–consider it a handy little tool that will protect your interests down the line in case a lawsuit develops. Use it to do the following things:
1.) Take photos of the accident.
While you're standing at the side of the road, take photos of your car, the other car, and the area of the road that you were on when the accident happened. If the cars haven't been moved yet, try to get a few different angles that show the position of the cars toward each other.
Make sure that you also take photos of any broken glass or plastic that's fallen off the vehicles and onto the ground. Look for skid marks on the pavement as well, which indicate that someone threw their brakes on fairly hard.
Grab a shot of the sky, so that you can show the weather conditions and visibility at the time. Take a few shots that give a general idea of the traffic conditions. Photos showing that the sky was overcast or that there was a lot of rushing traffic may explain how an accident happened.
The reason that photos can help you in the future is that many personal injury lawsuits, particularly auto accidents, can break down to the credibility of the drivers and witnesses involved. If both drivers seem credible but seem to remember events differently, physical evidence like photos can help. A crash scene reconstructionist can, for example, use photos of the cars as they came to rest after the accident to work out exactly how the cars must have impacted. Skid marks and debris flung from the cars can help demonstrate how fast each vehicle was going.
2.) Record your conversations.
Using your smartphone to record your conversations with the other driver after the accident can put an end to any disputes about whether someone took responsibility for the accident right after it happened. For example, if the other driver claims that you admitted fault, your recorded conversation could be used to refute that. On the other hand, you might end up catching the other driver admitting to texting while driving or just being so tired that he or she didn't pay attention to the road.
It's understandable if you don't want to ask the other driver for permission to record your conversation. However, before you record surreptitiously, make sure that it's legal to do so in your state. While federal courts have generally held that illicit recordings are legal as long as they aren't done with the intent of committing a crime, you don't necessarily want to end up having to test the rule yourself. In 32 states and the District of Columbia, you're free to record any conversation in which you're involved. In 11 states, you need the explicit consent of all other parties involved to record the conversation.
If you're in a state where you need the other driver's consent or you don't feel comfortable making a secret recording, ask witnesses that were with you or on the scene to give their name, contact information, and a brief statement of what they saw into the phone. That way, there's no confusion or question later about who was present for the accident or what they saw.
For more advice on what to do following a car accident, talk to an attorney in your area, such as one from Antonucci Frank & Associates Attorneys.Share