3 min read
How to be proactive at the scene of a crash: use your phone!
C. Jeremy Lagasse, Esq. Jul 13, 2020 12:00:00 AM
Being involved in a collision can be a simple inconvenience or a life-altering tragedy. When we see or are involved in a car crash, we often recall the “rules of the road” to decide who we think caused the accident. Compared to other things in life, deciding who is to blame for a crash may seem relatively straightforward. But, make no mistake: the facts ALWAYS matter.
What do I mean by “the facts”? Plain and simple: what YOU (and your attorney) can prove.
Consider this hypothetical: you are approaching a four-way intersection with a typical red-yellow-green light system. You enter the intersection on a green light while a driver from another direction enters on a red light. Because you cannot stop in time, you strike their vehicle in a “T-bone” collision. The other driver gets out and apologizes because they were looking somewhere other than the road. You probably assume you are going to be protected and that they will be at fault for the accident. Think again. People lie. And the other driver’s insurance company does not have your best interests, but rather their own bottom line, at heart.
In our experience representing thousands of injured persons, there are AT LEAST two versions of every story. And, frankly, that is what our job is as personal injury attorneys: to tell the true story of your collision and its effects on your life and potentially those around you. In the hypothetical above, despite confessing to causing the accident, the other driver might lie to their insurance company and the police. Then, it will become a “your word vs. their word” situation in which you may have the value of your case diminished or eliminated because of these lies.
At Aaron Ferguson Law, we know the value of being able to PROVE what you saw, experienced, and felt. In order to do that, we rely on your memory AND any other information that supports your version of the story. The truth, in a legal sense, is what you can prove.
So what can you do to give yourself the best chance to prove the facts of your case?
As a first principle in life, remember that you have to take steps to protect yourself. At the scene of an accident you have several things you can do to help capture information that can make the difference between a tragedy with no redemption and an opportunity for justice.
We live in the age of the smartphone, and, despite the fact that we should NOT be using our phones while driving, we absolutely SHOULD use it once we have been involved in a crash. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Call the police to make an accident report;
2. Turn on a voice recording app* before speaking to the other driver(s) about the accident;
3. Take pictures of the vehicles at the scene including license plates and any visible damage;
4. Take pictures of road signs and traffic signals at the scene; and
5. Take pictures of any documents provided by the other driver(s) or police including insurance;
If the at-fault driver in the story above confessed their mistake and it was recorded, that could make all the difference in securing payment from their insurance company.
Also, please note that while it is important to call the police, law enforcement will not respond to every call AND they are often not in the best position to capture critical information (right after the collision). As a result, YOU have to be proactive in gathering information that can be used later to protect your rights. If you follow my recommendations above, you may give yourself a better chance of redeeming a tragedy or alleviating an inconvenience.
At Aaron Ferguson Law we are committed to creative and tenacious investigation of accidents. We use the tools at our disposal to gather the facts that will tell your story. If you have done the job of gathering the freshest information at the scene of a crash, you will help give us the edge in fighting for your rights. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash, please call one of our talented and experienced attorneys for a free consultation today!
*Minnesota is a “one-party” recording state. That means you do not need permission to record a conversation as long as you are party to that conversation, or if at least one party to the conversation consents to being recorded. This is not intended to be legal advice and is based on Minn. Stat. § 626A.02, subd. 2(d).