Part 1: Automobile Accident/Motorcycle/Pedestrian Accident Checklist

How to Protect Yourself if You are Injured:

Personal Injuries are an unfortunate, yet common occurrence in our daily lives. However you can actively take steps to better ensure a favorable outcome after your injury.

Physical evidence and the recollections of witnesses and involved parties are crucial both for establishing the liability of the negligent parties as well as for proving the nature, extent, and causation of injuries.

In resolving personal injuries in Missouri, those claims in which this critical evidence has been preserved are almost invariably easier to settle and to settle at fair value. If the claim proceeds to trial, this evidence becomes even more critical for it is the basis of proof of liability and damages.

Once an experienced attorney at JoplinLawyers.com takes on a personal injury claim, the attorney will promptly collect all evidence that may be relevant to the claim. The earlier these steps are taken, the better the chances of a desirable outcome. And if you, the injured person, or a loved one has already begun to put this information together, you will have an even earlier jump on the process.

Since the nature of many pieces of evidence may not be immediately obvious to the non-attorney (and since even an experienced attorney will use checklists to avoid forgetting important items), the attorneys at JoplinLawyers.com have assembled checklists to help you protect yourself from having crucial evidence lost or destroyed. Since every case is unique, these lists can’t include every type of evidence possible.

Rather, these are intended to describe the most common pieces of evidence needed for successful resolution of your personal injury claim. By collecting as much of this evidence early on, both you and your attorney at JoplinLawyers.com may retain a significant head start on resolving your claim promptly and at full value. Below are the tools you need to jump ahead of your claim:

INSURANCE AND DRIVER’S LICENSE INFORMATION.

  • Insurance: Always request the insurance information of the other driver.  Write down the information or take photographs of documents with a phone or camera.
  • Other Driver’s License Information:  Always request the other driver’s license information.  Again, write down the information or take photographs of the driver’s license with a  phone or camera.
  • Get Additional Information!: After the insurance and driver’s license information has been exchanged, many individuals have the misunderstanding that evidence gathering and preservation from the accident has concluded. This, however, is not the case. Here are some tips that you can use to ensure that you have maximized your potential for recovery through evidence preservation.

LICENSE PLATE INFORMATION.

  • Other Driver’s License Plate Number: Following an accident, the one thing you can do to protect yourself is to copy down the license plate number of the other vehicle involved.  Sometimes the person driving the car does not own the car. You may think that you have protected yourself by obtaining the driver’s license information of the other driver, but this is often not sufficient. By writing down both the driver’s information and the license plate of the vehicle, you have worked to more thoroughly protect yourself and ensure that you have obtained all the information that you might need in the event of litigation.

ACCIDENT REPORT AND INVESTIGATING OFFICER.

  • Accident Report, Officer’s Name and Badge Number: If a police officer has come to the accident scene, be sure to ask if a report of the accident will be prepared and where and when it will be available. If the officer does not intend to prepare a report, be sure to request the officer’s name and badge number for later contact.

PHOTOGRAPHS.

  • Your Vehicle: Take pictures of your vehicle as soon as possible. Take pictures from all angles, not just the damaged portions.
  • Other Vehicle: If possible, take pictures of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
  • Surrounding Area: Take pictures of the surrounding area to preserve the way it looked at the time of accident.  Take pictures of the surrounding location and roadway for any physical damage, skid marks, or debris.  If you were a pedestrian, take photos of the crosswalk or the location where you crossed at street or where you were standing, walking, jogging, at the time of your accident.
  • Injuries:  If you or someone in your vehicle sustained a visible injury: i.e, bruise, cut, scrape, or stitches, take photographs of the injury to preserve the state of the injury at the time of the injury.
  • More, Not Less: Feel free to take as many photographs of what you think may be important to the accident. Your attorney at JoplinLawyers.com will decide what is and what is not important.

WITNESS INFORMATION.

  • Potential Witnesses: Take the name, address and telephone number of any potential witness and save this information someplace where it will not be lost.
  • Nearby Homes/Businesses: Return to the accident scene, visit any nearby homes or business for any potential witness(es) to the accident.
  • Revisit the Scene: Revisit the scene of the accident several times during the same time of day at which the accident took place. Some people may have a habit of visiting, stopping, or driving by the location of the accident as part of their normal daily routine. You may able to find a witness.
  • Let Attorney Follow Up: If you have obtained witness information, do not contact or speak to the witness(es) again. Do not try to solicit a written statement and/or drawing from the witness. Let your attorney contact any possible witness(es).

PROPERTY DAMAGE.

  • Repair Estimate: After taking photographs of your damaged vehicle, take the vehicle for a repair estimate as soon as possible. You are not obligated to use a repair facility that has been recommended by an insurance company, however it is generally good practice to obtain estimates from recommended garages.
  • Written Estimate: Obtain written and dated repair estimates from a minimum of two repair facilities, at least one of which you selected without insurance company suggestion.

Once you have collected your evidence using the checklist, or if you feel that you need professional help to collect evidence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at JoplinLawyers.com to maximize your chances of recovery. Our number is 417-623-8220 or toll free at 1-800-371-8220.  We have offices in Joplin, Carthage, and St. Louis, Missouri.  Be sure to return for the other checklists regarding other types of personal injury claims to ensure that you know how to properly handle any personal injury situation that might arise.

Carthage Office

Fax

(417) 781-9706

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