If you get into a car accident, gathering evidence is key to protecting your legal rights. Some of the most common contributing factors in the U.S. include distracted driving such as texting while driving, driving over the speed limit and drunk driving. No matter what the cause, to build a strong case for an insurance claim or an injury lawsuit, the more evidence you have, the better. Even if you feel the accident was a relatively minor one, it’s always a good idea to collect evidence as soon as it occurs. Sometimes an insurer or the other driver, even if truly negligent, will contest the claim.

Keep in mind that both memories and physical evidence tend to fade with time which makes it crucial to act promptly and make an appointment with the best car accident attorney you can as quickly as possible.

What kind of evidence do you need? Again, the more the better – insurance companies are well aware that the person seeking any damages is the one who bears the burden of proof to receive compensation. That means that if you’re the injured party, you will have to establish that the other driver was at fault and that you suffered damages and injury. Evidence can come in several different forms, including the following.

Photos

If you haven’t sustained injuries that prevent you from taking photos, you should use your phone to capture as many pictures of the scene as possible from various angles, including any debris on the road, skid marks or other visual evidence. If there is a stop sign or traffic light, take a photo of that as well to help show where the accident occurred in relation to it and who had the right of way. If the other driver claims they couldn’t see your vehicle coming, but you can take photos from the perspective of the other driver that show he or she had a clear view from 500 feet, for example, the other driver is likely to lose the case.

Photos of any damage to the vehicles can also help prove the extent of your losses while providing more details as to the mechanics of what happened. Taking photos of your injuries, if any, is also important.

Police Report

Reporting the accident to the police is also essential. If an officer comes to the scene of the accident they will prepare an official report and you should get a copy. Depending on the state, the report should list the officer’s conclusion of who was at fault. While police officers usually don’t witness the accident their conclusion is a key part of the evidence. Insurers will want to know what any investigating officers thought in respect to how it occurred. In some states, both drivers also have to file an accident report with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If that’s the case in your state, you’ll want a copy of the other driver’s report to check of any inconsistencies between the story they gave to their insurer, the police, and the DMV. If there are conflicts, they may help you show that the other driver’s version of events shouldn’t be considered credible.

Witnesses Testimony

If there were any witnesses to the accident, such as drivers of other vehicles or pedestrians in the area, you’ll want to gather their names and contact information. Try to find out if any of them have taken photos and ask them to send you copies too. Their testimony may be able to confirm your version of the events, potentially contradicting any argument by the other driver that you were at fault.

Clothing

Something many people don’t think about is saving the clothing they were wearing during the accident. If it was torn or there are any blood stains that can be dramatic evidence to show the jury if the case goes to trial.

Medical Treatment

Even if you’ve received just a minor injury, it’s essential to obtain professional medical attention. There are some injuries such as concussions, internal bleeding or brain injuries that don’t reveal themselves until after the fact, so you may not even be aware that you were injured. Seeing a healthcare provider immediately afterward also helps to document any injuries that were incurred from the accident, providing more evidence if an insurance company tries to argue your injuries were caused by something else.