Juries like physical evidence. They like seeing photographs or being shown videos. They don’t want to only rely on testimony. They want the “smoking gun.” Take photographs immediately after the accident as well as during the recovery process. Some people have to "see it to believe it.” Document your case with photographs. In car accident cases, photographs can show exactly how much property damage was caused to the vehicles. This is strong evidence regarding the force of the impact. It is also important to take photographs of your injuries. In slip and fall cases, photographs are important to show what caused the fall, the condition of the premise, and whether or not any warning signs were placed by the hazard. Take pictures of the people involved in the incident. You may not get the name of the store clerk or the driver, but a photograph may be helpful later to ensure that you have the right person.
Report the incident.
If it is a car accident, contact the police so that a crash report can be completed. If it is a slip and fall, have the store manager complete an incident report. This will ensure that the accident is documented, as well as all potential witnesses. Ask for a copy of the report.
Check to see if any surveillance captured the incident.
Retail stores often have plenty of surveillance. If you are involved in a slip and fall, determine where the closest surveillance camera is. If you have a smart phone, take a photo of the surveillance camera to prove that it likely captured the incident. If you are involved in a car accident, check to see if any surrounding stores had surveillance cameras that may have captured the accident.
Seek medical attention immediately.
Do not wait to see if your symptoms improve. Document your injuries immediately. Insurance companies typically have a stronger defense when the injured person waits to seek medical attention. The insurance companies argue that the person could not have been badly injured if they waited a week to seek medical attention. The longer the gap between the incident and the initial doctor visit, the weaker your injuries appear. Do not sit around in pain hoping that your symptoms will improve. Document your injuries.
Get as much information as you can.
If you cannot contact the police to complete a traffic crash report or you cannot have an incident report completed, get as much information as you can about the potential parties and witnesses. This includes: names, addresses, telephone numbers, license plate numbers, make and model of the vehicle, and description of witnesses. Ask police officers or store managers for a business card or for their contact information. For civilians, politely ask to see their drivers license to ensure they are giving you the correct information. If you have a smart phone, take a quick photograph of their license.
Do not speak to anyone about the case.
Other than giving a general description of the accident to the police officer or of the incident to a store manager, keep your mouth shut. Any statements you make can be admissible in court. Do not tell anyone you “are okay” or that “you will be fine.” You are not a doctor and you do not know the extent of your injuries. Sometimes, symptoms can take days to fully develop. Do not downplay your injuries before your symptoms even have a chance to develop. Also, do not comment on whether or not you were partially at fault for the incident. Do not say, “I should have seen that” or “I saw that coming.” People sometimes have a tendency to downplay a situation or be apologetic even if they are not at fault. Do not make statements to anyone while still under the excitement or stress of the incident. Give a general description of what happened and leave. Give yourself some time to calm down and reflect on what happened. Then talk to an attorney.