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After a collision in Louisiana, the moments immediately following can be disorienting. Once you’ve called the police, it may take some time for them to arrive on the scene. While waiting for officers to arrive, you can take proactive steps to protect your well-being and legal rights after a crash with another driver.

Wherever you are in Louisiana, from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, knowing what steps to take while waiting for police can help you gather crucial evidence and protect the safety of yourself and any injured parties.

Move to a Safe Location

Safety should be your priority following a car accident. Move your vehicle away from the flow of traffic to a safe location, typically as far as possible on the right side of the road or highway. Turn on your hazard lights to signal to other drivers that an accident has occurred.

Carry safety equipment such as cones, warning triangles, or road flares in your trunk. After an accident, you can use these to establish a clear and visible perimeter around the accident scene. This provides a warning for oncoming traffic.

However, moving your vehicle might not always be feasible or safe. If that’s the situation, remain inside your car with your seatbelt securely fastened. Remaining in the vehicle can shield you from potential harm, especially in areas with heavy traffic.

Document the Scene

While waiting for the authorities, you can gather evidence for insurance claims or legal proceedings. Use your smartphone or camera to capture photos of the accident scene.

Include photos of the following:

  • Damage: Take multiple photos of all vehicles involved from various angles. Ensure these photos show the extent of damage, including dents, scratches, and debris.
  • Injuries: If you or others are injured, take pictures of the injuries to show their extent. Obtain consent before taking photographs of another person’s injuries unless they are your minor child.
  • Overall scene: Capture wide shots of the entire accident scene, showing the positioning of vehicles, traffic signs, and road conditions.
  • Skid marks: Photograph any skid marks on the road, as they can indicate sudden stops or swerves that may help determine fault.
  • Weather conditions: Document the weather at the time of the accident. Capture rain, snow, fog, or ice in pictures or videos, especially if there is standing water, ice patches, or sleet on the road or surrounding street signs, traffic lights, or structures like rail guards.
  • Road signs and signals: Photograph road signs, traffic signals, and any obscured or damaged signage. This can help establish the state of traffic control at the time of the accident.
  • Traffic and road conditions: Capture images of the road, highlighting any potholes, cracks, or uneven surfaces. Also, document the traffic density and road layout, such as intersections or curves.

In addition to taking photos and videos, jot down notes about the accident, including the date, time, and location. Your memory may fade over time, so recording all the details can be helpful.

Look for Nearby Traffic or Security Cameras

Surveillance footage from nearby traffic or security cameras can provide unfiltered, time-stamped footage that can be invaluable for determining fault and supporting your claims. These cameras are often installed at intersections and outside businesses and government buildings, and they might have captured the accident from multiple angles.

Look around the area for cameras that might have recorded the accident, typically mounted on poles, traffic signals, or the sides of buildings. If you see one, take a picture and note its location to share with your attorney.

Your legal representative can initiate the process of obtaining the relevant footage. It is essential to act quickly because video recordings may be deleted or overwritten, especially from privately owned security cameras.

Exchange Contact Information with Involved Parties

Exchange contact information with the other parties involved in the accident. This includes names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance information. Be thorough and proactive in sharing your details as well.

Avoid discussing or admitting fault at the scene. Leave the determination of fault to the police, insurance companies, and legal professionals.

Obtain Witness Statements

To identify potential witnesses, consider individuals near the accident scene, including pedestrians and other drivers.

When approaching them, stay calm and courteous, recognizing that they may also be shaken or anxious due to the accident. Begin by politely asking if they saw the accident and if they would be willing to provide a statement. Indicate that you can take down their name and contact information for your attorney to contact them later.

Share any contact information, statements, or witness interactions with your attorney.

Note Your Immediate Observations

In the chaos following an accident, trauma can cloud your memory, making it easy to forget critical details. Having these observations recorded can serve as a reliable reference point, aiding your attorney in building a strong case.

To preserve your immediate observations and thoughts, consider doing the following:

  • Voice memo: Use your smartphone to record a voice memo detailing your immediate observations. This can include your perception of the accident, statements from other parties involved, and your initial assessment of injuries.
  • Email to yourself: Write an email to yourself summarizing your observations and send it to your email address. This will create a time-stamped record of your thoughts.
  • Video recording: If you feel comfortable, record yourself describing the accident and your surroundings. This can serve as a visual and audio record of your initial impressions.

This documentation is NOT meant to be shared with the police or anyone else besides your attorney. It can serve as a record of your version of events, which they can use for legal proceedings or insurance claims.

Secure Your Future with Dudley DeBosier

Car accidents can be distressing, and your decisions in the immediate aftermath are critical. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, or elsewhere in Louisiana, you don’t have to face the complexities and uncertainties alone. Our experienced Louisiana car accident lawyers at Dudley DeBosier are here to guide you.

Contact us for a free consultation to understand your rights, gather evidence, and seek the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Disclaimer: This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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