We cannot overstate the importance of evidence in a personal injury case arising from a car accident. Establishing the party responsible for your accident and demonstrating your resulting injuries and damages is necessary to obtain maximum compensation for your losses.
Building a strong case through evidence is difficult, so the assistance and representation of a car accident attorney becomes invaluable at this point. When you hire an experienced car accident attorney, they can take over the task of evidence collection and preservation. They can also use this evidence in the best ways possible to maximize your compensation.
How Attorneys Collect Evidence
Attorneys employ various strategies to collect and safeguard crucial evidence, including the following:
- Witness Statements: Contact witnesses for sworn statements regarding the accident details.
- Subpoenas: Filing formal legal requests to obtain surveillance camera footage that may support your case.
- Asset Checks: Running checks on the at-fault party’s assets to assess potential compensation sources.
- Medical Records: Request and review medical records to establish the extent of your injuries.
- Expert Witnesses: Retain expert witnesses when necessary to provide specialized insights.
- Police or Incident Reports: Obtaining official reports to gather additional details about the accident.
Plenty of compelling evidence significantly increases the likelihood of securing the compensation you rightfully deserve for your car accident case. Without enough quality evidence to support each element of negligence, you are unlikely to win your injury claim or receive a fair settlement.
Establishing Compensatory Damages in a Car Accident Case
Compensatory damages include economic/special and non-economic/general categories and compensate for losses suffered in a car accident. To secure compensation, car accident injury victims must substantiate their damages, attributing them to another party’s negligence. Proving compensatory damages involves demonstrating the following:
- Their tangible losses occurred as a result of the accident.
- A clear connection between their damages and the negligence of the other party.
- The monetary value of the sustained damages.
When it comes to car accident cases, the burden of proof lies in establishing a preponderance of the evidence. This means demonstrating that your version of events is more likely true than not, essentially holding over 50 percent of the credible evidence in your favor.
Proving special damages typically involves providing a documented paper trail for various expenses, such as the following:
- Medical Expenses: Retaining bills, statements, and receipts for medical costs, prescriptions, durable medical equipment, or chiropractic care.
- Lost Income: Demonstrating lost income with a statement from your employer that discloses your normal pay rate, how many hours of work you missed, and the total amount of lost income due to your injury. It should also address lost opportunities for overtime, paid vacation time, or sick leave (PTO) used due to the injury. However, if you are self-employed, substantiating lost income may involve tax returns, profit and loss statements, and evidence of lost assignments post-injury.
- Property Damage: Saving receipts or written estimates for out-of-pocket expenses related to property repairs or replacements.
A comprehensive documentation of these special damages, supported by evidence, significantly strengthens the basis for a compensatory damages claim in a car accident case.
The Complexities of Demonstrating Non-Economic/General Damages
Non-economic or general damages, often including pain and suffering, extend beyond physical injuries and may cover elements like scarring, mental anguish, emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. Establishing these damages poses a unique challenge as they lack concrete evidence, raising skepticism from insurance companies that struggle to quantify subjective experiences.
Despite the absence of measurable metrics, non-economic damages are integral to a comprehensive car accident claim. Their enduring impact on victims can be profound, often proving more challenging than those posed by special damages. It’s essential to substantiate general damages, and evidence supporting their existence may involve:
- Testimonies: Personal accounts from the injured party provide insights into their emotional and psychological suffering.
- Medical Professionals: Statements from treating doctors or mental healthcare providers can contribute to validating the impact of non-economic damages.
- Witnesses: Testimonies from individuals who knew the victim before the accident, such as family, friends, or co-workers, can offer perspectives on the changes in their well-being.
Drawing parallels to similar cases is a strategic approach to demonstrating the validity of general damages. Highlighting compensation awarded to victims of comparable accidents and injuries establishes a foundation for negotiating a fair settlement with insurance adjusters. An experienced car accident attorney utilizes such comparisons to strengthen your claim and pursue just compensation for general damages.
Essential Evidence in a Car Accident Case
Law Enforcement’s Accident Report
After a motor vehicle accident, it’s imperative to promptly contact the local law enforcement agency. Many cities and states mandate this action, particularly in cases involving injuries, fatalities, or property damage.
Law enforcement officers play a crucial role in investigating the scene. They conduct surveys, capture photographs, take measurements, and interview all relevant parties, including witnesses. This careful process enables them to form conclusions regarding the accident’s antecedents, dynamics, and the party responsible for the incident.
The accident report not only details the sequence of events but also highlights any violations of the law, such as speeding, reckless driving, or driving under the influence. Instances of legal infractions by the liable party are crucial pieces of evidence supporting the demonstration of their breach of duty.
While the officer’s report may take a few days, once completed, you and your attorney can obtain a copy. Despite potential errors or omissions, the accident report offers credible facts that serve as valuable evidence in a car accident claim. Utilizing the report, your lawyer can establish fault, substantiate the reasons behind the accident, and provide proof of the injuries you sustained.
Documentation of Medical Expenses
Establishing a comprehensive financial paper trail is essential to secure compensation for your claim. Without a clear demonstration of your injury costs, the insurance company may not reimburse you for them. Many victims overlook certain types of bills that can serve as crucial evidence, including:
- Diagnostic bills from labs, radiology departments, and radiologists
- Ambulance bills, particularly if you received emergency care
- Hospital bills, covering expenses related to surgery or inpatient stays
- Ancillary care bills, such as those from chiropractors, physical therapists, or occupational therapists
- Receipts for over-the-counter and prescription medications
- Receipts for medical devices like crutches, braces, or wheelchairs
- Bills related to mental health care sought after the accident
Receipts for replacement services also carry evidentiary weight when seeking compensation. For instance, if you could not attend to childcare or routine housekeeping and yard care activities, hiring someone to perform these tasks qualifies as compensable expenses. Additionally, retaining proof of any transportation or food expenses incurred due to medical care is crucial.
Your medical records will establish the link between your injuries and the car accident. Without these records, it becomes challenging to substantiate your medical care and expenses. To obtain your medical records, follow the protocols outlined by your medical providers. According to the law, you must consent to obtain copies of your medical records or authorize their release to a third party, such as a car insurance company or law firm. Once you consent, your car accident attorney can request and obtain these records on your behalf.
Nearly every entity issuing medical bills should have corresponding medical records pertaining to your injuries. To ensure a comprehensive collection of necessary medical records for evidence, it’s often helpful to create a chronological list of your medical care, surgeries, therapies, and treatments since the accident. This proactive approach will facilitate both you and your attorney in gathering all pertinent medical records for your case.
Photos and Videos
Pictures and videos are essential pieces of evidence in your claim. Today’s technology makes it possible to document accidents in this valuable way nearly any time of day that time an accident occurs. Whenever possible, get pictures or videos at the car accident scene.
Include any notable conditions in the area, such as a large pothole or a tree blocking the view from an intersection. Take pictures and videos of your injuries as soon as possible after the accident, as they heal, and after they heal. Be aware of the light conditions and use your cell phone’s camera settings to produce an optimal photo. Photographic evidence of your property damage, such as the damage your vehicle sustained or your damaged wedding ring, is also helpful.
Detailed notes can make a significant difference in a car accident case. A legal notepad, journal, or even a simple notebook will work. Alternatively, you can also type your notes. Make a thorough narrative of the accident from your perspective as soon as possible. Waiting too long to document your account can cause you to forget details or recall details incorrectly.
In addition, keeping a daily journal of your pain, discomfort, and how your injuries have impacted your life can also help support your claim. Be sure to include any activities, events, or hobbies you have had to miss out on because of your injuries.
Whenever possible, a witness should promptly provide their statement after the incident or as soon as practicable. Memories can fade rapidly over time, and there’s a risk of filling in gaps with inaccurate details. Given that resolving a disputed car accident injury claim may take months or even years, having an actual statement aids the witness in recollecting the events accurately. These statements serve as a reference point, refreshing the witness’s memory and enabling them to provide precise, truthful, and detailed facts about their observations.
A witness statement typically covers the following:
- Detailed observations of the incident
- Specific facts related to the accident
A witness statement assists investigators by offering an alternative perspective on the events. It is a valuable resource if the witness needs to recount or testify about the incident months or years later.
However, effective witnesses should exercise caution to avoid certain pitfalls when providing statements. Here are some key points they should steer clear of:
- Guesses: Witnesses should refrain from guessing, limiting their statements to personal observations.
- Opinions: Witnesses should avoid inserting personal opinions, arguments, or conclusions into their statements. The focus should be on presenting facts.
- Feelings: Maintaining neutrality is crucial. Witness statements should not include personal feelings about the claim’s outcome or any sympathy for the victim.
Instead, a well-constructed witness statement relies on objective facts and firsthand observations, ensuring its credibility and relevance in a car accident investigation.
Involved in a Car Accident? Reach Out to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney for Assistance Today
Evidence establishing all aspects of negligence in a car accident is an integral part of a claim. A seasoned car accident attorney is instrumental in ensuring you have the necessary evidence to substantiate your claim and maximize your compensation.
Seeking legal assistance promptly is in your best interest to protect your rights and legal options. The sooner you hire a personal injury lawyer, the more efficiently they can initiate the collection of evidence for your car accident injury claim. Your attorney can promptly gather evidence, alleviate the burden on you, and allow you to concentrate on your recovery from injuries.