Conclusive evidence is the key to any personal injury claim, and there are several important types of evidence you must collect. The following steps will help you ensure you build a strong case.
Return to the Scene
Whether your personal injuries were the result of a car crash, slip or fall, or other accident, return to the scene to collect evidence. Look for important factors that contributed to the accident, like:
- improperly maintained sidewalks, steps, or floors, in the case of a slip and fall
- an intersection without visual clearance for drivers or with a faulty traffic light, in the case of a vehicle collision
- a defined crosswalk and visually clear intersection, if you were hit by a car while walking
Every detail you’re able to document helps support your argument that you were not at fault for your injuries, as proving liability is very important in winning a personal injury claim.
Ensure you take pictures of the accident scene:
- from different angles, documenting the line of site of both drivers, if it was a car accident.
- from your point of view and what the driver of the car would have seen, if you were a pedestrian or bike rider who was struck by a vehicle.
It’s also important to take photos at the same time of day that your accident occurred and on the same day of the week. These details help document what traffic was like when your accident happened.
Have another individual, such as a friend, family member, or even– a neutral third party, like an attorney – record the details of each photo you take, including the location, angle, time, and date.
If your injuries were the result of another type of accident, like a slip and fall injury for example, the same principles apply. Take pictures of the scene and document the time, date, and location of each photo.
Protect Physical Evidence
Fault or liability for an accident is often proven through physical evidence, which is something you can see or touch. Photos help you preserve that evidence, if taken shortly after an accident occurs, before the circumstances of the accident scene are altered or corrected.
If you suffered a slit and fall injury as a result of poorly maintained stairs for example, then you want to preserve the physical evidence with photographs before the property owner has the chance to fix the stairs. Other examples of physical evidence include:
- Fallen tree limbs
- Dents or other damage to vehicles
- Iced-over side walks
Physical evidence can also help prove the extent or severity of injuries or damages. This helps you show how much compensation you are entitled to receive in a personal injury claim.
The extent of damage to your car for example, can help you prove how hard or fast the impact was, the angle of impact, and other details that strengthen your argument that the other driver was at fault.
If you’re unable to preserve an actual object as physical evidence, ensure that you try to preserve it through photos. Other examples of physical evidence include your torn or bloody clothing and photos of your initial physical injuries.
Witnesses are often invaluable in personal injury cases, but locating a witness can be a challenge if you are unsure how to proceed. You may recall the faces of others who were present at the accident scene, in which case, returning to the scene on the same day of the week and at the same time of day may make it possible for you to easily locate witnesses, as they may visit the location on a regular schedule.
Memories can often fade quickly, which makes locating witnesses as soon as possible after the accident important. A witness may be able to:
- Support your story, by making a formal statement about what they saw
- Attest to things overhead at the site, like the other driver being at fault.
Either way, a statement from that witness can be a powerful component of the evidence in your personal injury claim.
How a Lawyer can Help with Preserving Accident Evidence
A personal injury attorney can assist in preserving evidence in several ways:
- By employing an experienced photographer to document the scene
- By knowing the types of evidence to look for
- By understanding how to locate and approach witnesses
- By formally documenting key pieces of evidence
Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after an accident is advisable. The shorter the delay, the sooner a lawyer can begin to build your case file and collect the needed evidence for proving your claim.
Preserving Evidence In Different Scenarios
While the information presented here may be helpful to you on its own, you may want to take a look at some more specific scenarios regarding preserving evidence, which include:
- Documenting a Boat Crash
- Documenting a Bicycle Accident With a Car
- Documenting a Hit-and-Run Accident
- Documenting a Crash While Walking
- Documenting a Truck Crash
- Documenting an Auto Accident
- Documenting an Accident Without the Car Owner
- Documenting an Accident With Falling Merchandise
- Documenting an ATV Crash
- Documenting a Fall in a Store
- Documenting a Fall in a Home