To build a strong personal injury case, an injured victim must prove that someone else’s negligence caused their injuries. Whether someone was injured in a car accident, a slip and fall, or a bicycle accident, it is the injured party’s responsibility to collect the evidence necessary to hold the negligent party liable for their injuries. From physical evidence to witness accounts, the more evidence a person can collect, the stronger their case will be. However, the process of collecting evidence can be time-consuming and overwhelming, particularly if someone is recovering from serious injuries. In addition, certain types of evidence are more valuable in a personal injury case. For example, physical evidence is more valuable than personal testimonies. An experienced personal injury lawyer will work closely with victims to collect and preserve the evidence needed to reach a successful outcome and secure the compensation they deserve.
What Types of Evidence are Needed to Prove Fault?
The types of evidence that victims can collect will depend on the nature of the accident and the severity of their injuries. The following are examples of evidence that victims can present in a personal injury case:
- Physical evidence: Most accidents leave behind physical evidence. This can include a dented car door, torn or bloodied clothing, or a broken staircase. It is important that the evidence is preserved in the condition it was in after the accident. For example, if a car accident caused an arm laceration, and there was blood on the shirt, the shirt should not be washed. The shirt should be placed in a sealed bag and included with other evidence.
- Evidence from the accident scene: If there are skid marks or broken glass on the road at the accident scene, this can be valuable evidence. Someone should take photos of the road, the glass, uneven pavement, traffic lights, broken stairs or railing, poor signage, or lack of safety barriers, and document any other pieces of evidence that could help the case, including the weather conditions at the time of the accident.
- Documentation of injuries: If a person suffered any injuries as a result of the accident, they should collect copies of all medical bills, X-rays, prescription medication, digital imaging, physical therapy, incident reports, and written communication from the insurance company about coverage for treating the injury. Photos of the injury should also be included.
- Witness accounts: If there were any witnesses present when the accident occurred, their contact information should be collected. Ask if a witness is willing to provide a statement. Witness testimonies are valuable as they can confirm the information that the victim provided about the accident. In addition, they may be able to provide additional information if they saw something that the victim did not notice. Just as the victim’s memory can fade in time, witnesses can forget important details. If a witness does not want to provide a statement, the victim’s lawyer may send a notice to conduct a formal deposition.
- The victim’s account of the accident: As time passes after an accident, parties are likely to forget small, important details about the accident. The best thing for the victim to do is record as many details as possible immediately following the accident, when their memory is the clearest. Once they have calmed down, the injured should take the time to replay the accident in their head, as it may jog their memory and help them remember other important details. Details about the current weather, the time of day, license plate number, driver’s license number, and contact information of the other driver are helpful. Digital and hard copies of this information should be made and kept in a safe place.
- Official reports: If police or emergency medical technicians were at the scene of the accident, request a copy of the accident report. If the injury prevents the victim from returning to work, they will need to collect evidence of lost wages, as well as estimates or copies of bills for the cost of repairing their vehicle and other personal property that was damaged. Keep a copy of these documents for themselves and forward a copy to their lawyer.
- Photos and video: If the accident occurred at a busy intersection or some other location where there may be traffic lights with cameras, or nearby stores that have surveillance systems, this technology may have footage of the accident and the events leading up to the crash. Someone can ask the store manager or building owner for a copy of the footage from the accident.
Tips for Taking Effective Photos
Photos provide valuable evidence and can help prove who is responsible for an accident. In fact, clear photographs are the next best thing to a solid piece of physical evidence. The following tips should be kept in mind when preserving evidence with photographs:
- Most people have cell phones that are equipped with high-quality cameras. Pictures taken with smartphone cameras can provide valuable photos of the accident scene.
- Whether someone is using a smartphone camera or a regular camera, take photos of various angles so that there are several images to show the insurance adjuster. Video footage is also extremely valuable.
- Photos should be taken immediately following the accident to capture the condition of the accident scene.
- When taking pictures with a smartphone, it is important to make sure that it is set up to put a time stamp on the images.
Once all the evidence has been collected, it is necessary to preserve the evidence so that it is not damaged or lost. For example, photos can fade or become damaged or misplaced. Valuable photographic images can be preserved by backing them up on a jump or flash drive. Other physical evidence should be properly bagged, labeled, and sent to a safe location where it will be protected from tampering.
How Does Evidence Disappear?
In some cases, people may toss pieces of evidence or rush to repair damaged property, not realizing that the ruined or damaged object could help the case immensely. Other times, evidence is lost simply because of the nature of the evidence. For example, skid marks fade over time, and security footage may get deleted after a certain number of days, sometimes in as little as 48 hours. As a result, it is crucial that victims act quickly and collect as much evidence as possible, document the evidence, and store it in a safe and secure place.
What can Victims Do If Evidence Gets Destroyed?
It is not uncommon for the individual who is being sued to try and destroy evidence. This is known as spoliation of evidence. To prevent evidence from being tampered with or destroyed by the other side, the plaintiff’s lawyer may draft an anti-spoliation letter that orders the person in possession of the evidence to preserve it. If someone destroys evidence after receiving an anti-spoliation letter, he or she is subjected to sanctions under the law. Anti-spoliation letters are particularly important in cases in which the defendant is in possession of critical evidence. The letter forces that person to keep the evidence rather than getting rid of it, with serious penalties for any destruction of or tampering with that evidence..
Los Angeles Catastrophic Injury Lawyers at ACTS Law Secure Valuable Evidence for Victims of Personal Injury Accidents
If you or someone you love was seriously injured in an accident, it is in your best interest to contact the Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at ACTS Law at your earliest convenience. We have the knowledge and resources to reconstruct the circumstances of your case and fight to ensure that you are receiving the maximum compensation to which you are entitled. Our skilled legal team will protect your rights and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 833-ACTS-LAW or contact us online. From our offices in San Diego and Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout California.