The flow of a car accident has a beginning, middle and end. When you’ve been involved in a crash, take a moment if possible to collect your thoughts and then write everything down. Detailing how to describe a car accident becomes a critical process in protecting yourself legally.
The most important steps for describing a car accident include:
1. Gather Your Thoughts and Write Them Down
2. Taking Pictures and Videos Is Essential
3. Gather Important Information at The Crash Scene
4. Answer Questions but Avoid Making Major Statements
5. If You’re Injured, Get Legal Representation
6. Keep an Accident Description Checklist in Your Vehicle
7. Record Essential Info With a Car Accident App
Gather Your Thoughts and Write Them Down
Ask yourself the following questions, and write down your answers. Remember, be truthful, objective and calm — all important while describing a car crash.
- Get a sense of the vehicles in the accident and the number of people if you can. Sometimes, it might just be you and one other vehicle. In others, several vehicles might be involved, or if it was a chain-reaction, many others.
- Where were you when the crash happened?
- Ask yourself what caused the accident. This might be a difficult step since you were not seeing the accident in its totality. Write down what you think caused it with a question mark after it if you are unsure. You can come back to that later.
- Was reckless driving involved? Which vehicle and driver appeared to be driving recklessly?
- What was the reckless driver doing? Were they speeding, passing through a stop sign or a traffic light?
- Was impaired driving involved?
- Had you noticed that a vehicle seemed to be moving erratically before the accident happened?
- If there was a third vehicle involved, were they hit by another driver and forced into your path?
- Were other vehicle signal lights working or used, and if a rear-end accident, was involved, did you notice brake lights?
- If you spoke to witnesses, what did they say caused the accident?
- Did the other driver approach your vehicle? If so, did they make a statement?
Taking Pictures and Videos Is Essential
The old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words is true. There are times you cannot get out of your vehicle and take pictures such as when the accident happens on a busy highway or if you are injured. However, if you can, use your cell phone to take pictures or video of all pertinent details.
If possible, include photos or videos of:
- Where the vehicles came to rest after the crash – Vehicle placement will tell you and the accident reconstruction expert your attorney may bring onboard a lot about how the accident happened
- Visible damage
- Skid marks on the pavement – Skid marks are important because they show things such as whether the driver applied his or her brakes.
- License plates
- Mile marker on the road if one is nearby
- Construction work that was in progress when the accident occurred
- Detours that were in place
- Describe the weather and roadway conditions – these very often can contribute to a crash
If another driver protests that you are taking photos, just stop. Some people become aggressive after an accident, and you don’t want to be caught in the middle of that. If you have already called your attorney, someone from their office is probably headed your way with a camera if the accident was substantial.
Gather Important Information to Describe a Car Accident Scene
While you are waiting for the police, take a moment to talk to other drivers and witnesses. Don’t strike up a long conversation about who may be at fault for the crash, but do ask for important details like:
- Contact Info of drivers and witnesses
- Insurance details
- Vehicle registration details
- Drivers License info
If the vehicle that caused the accident left the scene, try to think of anything you can remember about it. Even small details can help the police apprehend the driver.
Answer Questions but Avoid Making Major Statements
The police and insurance companies have the right to ask questions. If a police officer comes to the scene of the accident, he or she will be asking questions to fill out a report. Answer the questions honestly and calmly. While it is natural to be upset when you have been in a car accident, try to tone it down. The police are just doing their job. Don’t forget to get the name of the law enforcement officer. It helps later when trying to obtain a police report. If possible, ask the officer if he or she can give you a copy and a business card.
How to Describe a Car Accident for Insurance
Your insurance company will probably have a few questions. All you are required to give them is basic information in this first call such as where it happened and how many vehicles were involved or if someone was injured. If you are not sure of any answer, just say so. If the insurer asks to record your call, you should indicate that your attorney will be calling them shortly. The same goes for the other driver’s insurer. As with the police, answer the basic questions honestly. If you lie, the insurer could deny your claim.
If You’re Injured, Get Legal Representation
After a car accident, many questions are asked. This is true whether the accident was your fault or not. Police, insurance companies, both yours and the other drivers, all want to know your version of what happened. In the stress of the moment, it is possible to say things you may regret later on. However, if you have legal representation, a trained professional will answer the questions in your stead.
Keep an Accident Description Checklist in Your Vehicle
Print our accident description checklist to keep in your car for when you need it most.
Record Essential Info With a Car Accident App
It is essential that before you leave the scene of the accident you have all the information you need to answer additional questions down the line. You can do this by downloading a car accident checklist app. This app, designed by a car accident lawyer, is a guide to what you need to do and what information you need to gather when the accident happens. Just click here to download for free to your mobile device.