No one plans on getting into a car accident, being injured or causing property damage. Yet, it can happen to even the most careful drivers. After you receive medical attention, you decide to pursue a claim against the other driver. At this point, you need to begin gathering evidence.
Evidence for Serious Collisions
With some fender-benders, the claim is cut-and-dry: The other driver was clearly at fault and you’ll receive compensation to repair your vehicle. However, there’s less clarity with more severe accidents. As a result, your insurance carrier may say you’re partially responsible for the accident and your injuries get played down or attributed to a pre-existing condition.
With these claims, the burden of proof falls on you – especially if the claim goes to court. How can gathering evidence help with your case?
- Pictures, medical bills and witness statements help support your version of events. The driver who hit you may have a totally different story that contradicts your own.
- Evidence related to your condition supports claims involving your injury and any lost wages. Specifically, this information proves your condition was not pre-existing and has affected your ability to continue working.
- Physical evidence (i.e. taking pictures of the scene) helps support your claim that the other driver was behaving in a reckless, negligent manner and their actions are directly responsible for the accident and your injuries.
- During your case, the defendant will bring in experts to challenge your claims. Evidence is essential for showing the defendant’s points don’t hold any weight.
To prepare for these instances, how should you approach gathering evidence?
Support Your Claims with Photos
You can have your own story, but does the scene of the accident back up this version of events? If it’s possible, use a camera to capture:
- The scene of the accident close up and from far away.
- Any skid marks on the road.
- Your injuries, before you received medical attention.
- Your clothing, if you bled or the force of the accident tore through it.
- The intersection, including any traffic control signals and signs and how they were functioning on that day.
- Road conditions, such as fallen trees, potholes or debris.
- Weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident, including snow and ice or mud.
- The other driver’s perspective, especially if he or she alleges you weren’t visible or “came out of nowhere”.
- The damage your vehicle sustained close up and from far away. These shots assist with repairs and can help determine the speeds at which the vehicles were traveling, how the accident occurred and if your injuries correspond with the accident’s severity.
Witnesses, Contact Information & Statements
Never let the other driver leave the scene without getting his or her contact information. By default, this should include a name, phone number, address and driver’s license. Some drivers claim to not have their license on them; in these instances, request their car registration or insurance card. Additionally, determine if the individual was driving on behalf of a business. If so, be sure to get the employer’s name and contact information.
If a hit and run occurs, try to make out the license plate number before calling the police.
When your accident took place, it’s likely that at least one person witnessed all or part of the accident. At this point, anticipate any future statements they could make in your case by asking for their contact information and any photos or video taken at the scene.
Police Report and Records
When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they begin gathering information for an official report. This report is public record in all states, so you have the right to obtain a copy from the police station. For your case, this document includes the officer’s conclusion about who was at fault, as well as information about the cars and any damaged property.
As soon as you can, put together your own version of events so you have a clear stance on what occurred at the accident site. With as much detail as you can remember, assemble a timeline of:
- What happened before the accident
- The accident itself
- What occurred after the accident
Keep Detailed Records
What treatments, one-time or ongoing, did you receive after the accident? What repairs were made to your vehicle? As your claim unfolds, always keep records and receipts related to:
- Repairs made to your car, including improvements made before the accident and any service directly related to the accident.
- Any car rental records.
- All hospital visits immediately following the accident and any return visits. During these visits, inform your doctors you were involved in a car accident. List which doctor your saw, the treatment obtained and how much you paid out of pocket for the visit. After your treatment is complete, request a copy of your medical records from your doctor.
- Medications and medical equipment related to your injury.
- Any receipts for travel expenses related to medical appointments.
- Time off from work, including paperwork from your employer about missed days and pay stubs showing decreased earnings.
- Any statements from your health insurance carrier indicating the full cost for all doctor’s visits, medical treatments like X-rays and MRIs and medications.
After a car accident, you may be facing a long and difficult road ahead. Gathering as much evidence as you can only helps your claim. If you’ve been dealing with an insurance carrier that plays down your injuries or places all the blame on you, get Trantolo & Trantolo involved. To speak with one of our motor vehicle accident attorneys, give us a call today.