When you’re in a car accident, you might file a personal injury lawsuit to receive compensation for damages, including your medical treatment and ongoing care needs stemming from the accident.
Specific damages that you might be able to pursue include medical bills and ongoing healthcare costs, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain, and suffering, and mental anguish.
A lot of how your case turns out relies on what you do immediately following the accident.
Even if you think you are involved in a pretty minor car accident, you should start collecting evidence as soon as the crash happens.
The following are some things to know about the evidence used in car accident cases.
If you are able, try to take photographs from the scene of the accident. You can take them from different angles with your phone. Take pictures of things like skid marks and debris from the collision.
If there are nearby traffic signals, stop signs, or other devices for traffic control, take photos of those too.
Taking pictures of these devices can help you see who had the right of way and where the accident was relative to the device.
Take pictures of injuries you suffer too.
Are there are any witnesses to the accident? Legally, when drivers are in an accident, they’re required to exchange information with other drivers. Not doing this is a hit and run, and it’s illegal.
Along with the other driver’s information, if there are pedestrians or other drivers in the area at the time of your accident, try to get their contact information.
One important piece of evidence from an accident is the police report. Having a police report created at the scene of the accident can be critical for determining who’s legally at fault.
Evidence of Damages
While a big part of a car accident claim determines fault, you’ll also need to have evidence of damages because that’s ultimately what you’re asking for compensation to cover.
Evidence of damages covers two main areas.
You’ll need evidence of the damage to your vehicle, but also evidence of damages related to your injuries.
For evidence of damages to your vehicle, you’ll want to keep all of your repair shop records and your records of car rentals.
If you recently had work done to your car before your accident, it can help if you can show proof of that too.
You want to make sure you keep careful records as far as the extent of your injuries and your needed medical treatment.
Keep written documentation, such as a journal of all of your healthcare appointments. Write down who you saw, what they said and what treatment you got, and if you had to pay money for each visit.
You should have documented evidence for all your records, including diagnostic imaging.
You will want to get all of your bills from any providers you see.
As far as lost wages or lost income, keep track of all your W-2s, pay stubs, and anything related to the time you’re out of work.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will work to get information from the at-fault driver in the form of interrogatories. These are written questions the other party has to answer under oath and within a certain period of time.
There are also depositions your lawyer might conduct. A deposition is a testimony outside of court, given under oath, and usually recorded and then transcribed by a court reporter.
Initially, when you’re in a car accident, an insurance adjuster will do an investigation to determine who’s responsible. The adjuster might gather their own evidence including taking pictures and contacting witnesses.
The insurance company will also look at the police report, and they might try to obtain things like videos if there was a red light camera near the scene of the accident.
If the insurance company offers you a settlement, they’ll ask you to sign a release of liability form. This means that once you sign it, the insurance company isn’t liable for other damages.
If your case was to go to court, which is rare in personal injury cases, then your lawyer might have other evidence, such as testimony from experts like medical professionals.
Once you get to that point, your lawyer will almost entirely be in charge of gathering and submitting evidence.