While car accidents are exceedingly common, many drivers and passengers have little experience with what to do after a crash. We all know to call medical help for those who are injured and to involve law enforcement. However, you may not realize the importance of gathering and retaining evidence as early as possible. Even in accidents where one driver is clearly at fault, opposing lawyers and insurance companies often try to undermine a legitimate legal claim, questioning what really happened. You may know you were driving safely, and you know you deserve compensation for your injuries, but how can you help prove it?
Gathering Evidence at the Scene of a Mobile Crash
In more serious accidents, it’s not possible for those involved to gather evidence at the site of the crash. But in many cases, the drivers and passengers are able to get out and walk around. At those times, valuable evidence can easily be gathered. To gain and protect this evidence, accident victims should:
- Call the police. Police officers will create an official record of the crash. Their report will include many key details and offer their opinion on the cause of the accident. They can also test the other driver if you suspect they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This report can be critical evidence later.
- Take photos. Photograph the car, the damage to vehicles and property, marks on the roadway (like skid marks from trying to stop suddenly), the accident scene as a whole, and any other landmarks or pertinent road conditions.
- Talk to witnesses. Often, other drivers or pedestrians witness the crash. Write down their names and contact information so they can be reached later to back up your claim.
Obtaining Evidence After the Accident
Whether you were seriously injured or you were simply too overwhelmed to gather evidence just after your accident, it is still possible to obtain further information to support your personal injury claim. After a crash, accident victims have a right to see:
- A copy of the police report
- Breathalyzer or other sobriety test rest results
- Cell phone records
- Video footage (from traffic or security cameras if possible)
The evidence critical to your case may vary depending on the specific facts of your accident. There is a wide variety of evidence that can help you prove another driver’s negligence and obtain the compensation you deserve. An experienced attorney can help you identify and gain this evidence.
How to Get the Evidence You Need to Support Your Injury Claim
Unfortunately, gathering this evidence may not be easy. All the parties involved are out to protect their own interests, and they may make it difficult to obtain the information you need. At times, you may need to navigate the legal discovery process to make the evidence available. Discovery is the manner in which both sides gather information they deem relevant to the claim. This can encompass a wide range of evidence, and it can involve:
- Requests for admission. These documents ask the other side to either confirm or deny facts of the case. It offers yes or no questions to be answered to help prove fault and verify accuracy.
- Interrogatories. Similar to requests for admission, an interrogatory asks the other side to provide answers to written questions. These questions are open-ended, and their answers are bound by oath.
- Depositions. These meetings (either in person, via telephone, or via video chat) provide oral reports and answers to questions. While they do not take place in a courtroom, a court official will swear in all those answering questions and provide a transcript of the meeting.
- Requests for production. This type of request requires those involved to share documents, photos, recordings, and other items that may reveal information about the accident and legal claim.
- Investigation and examination. Gathering evidence will include a thorough investigation of the accident by your legal team. They may inspect property and roads or request a medical examination of a person involved in the crash.
Even if you aren’t sure of your rights or you’re worried that you don’t have the evidence you need to support a claim, talk to a lawyer today. At Lattof & Lattof, our legal team is here to help you understand your rights and find the best way forward from your accident. Call us today or fill out the contact form on this page to request a free consultation.