What to Do if You’re in a Car Accident: Remember Accident Details

Accidents can and do cause a lot of stress.  On top of the damage, how can you be expected to remember “accident details” in addition—or, by the time you are through with all the inquires, to distinguish “accident details” from the “information” you’ve already documented and/or photographed? Here’s the good news:  the details this requirement obligates you to keep straight, are basically reinforcements of the narrative you’ve already figured out.   Important events of an accident (which will likely happen in a matter of seconds) may be cemented into memory by circumstances that are inconsequential to the broader scheme, but which stick in your mind.

For instance, a Dum Dum wrapper that you saw stuck to the fire hydrant on the corner may prove that you were looking in the right direction while executing a right-hand turn.  Abruptly hearing “Suddenly I See” start to play in the back of your mind is both amusing enough to remember easily and reminiscent of the shock you probably felt at suddenly seeing a large truck pull out in front of you.  These points of action upon which a narrative hinges are punctuated by ostensibly random recollections of this sort.  If anything particularly nonsensical, coincidental, or humorous stands out in your mind, use it to anchor confusing parts of the event in that nonsensical, coincidental, or humorous grain of truth. Although you might have already written down or documented several facets of the situation, it can never hurt to document all the details in one mass sum to help you recollect.  Covering your bases a second time will also provide you with backup you need to successfully file claims or cases if necessary.

Furthermore, using details to fill out your accident report simplifies a process you could not (or at least, should not) have avoided to begin with.  Flashbacks to largely immaterial occurrences don’t have to be a distraction from that process.  They can be used to moor your account in objectivity, even when you are dealing with residual panic as you write.  You have to tell the police what happened anyway; you may as well use extraneous information to your advantage (although this information should not actually congest the accident report). To learn more about managing accidents, check out our article, “What To Do If You Are in a Car Accident.”

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