Collecting Car Accident Evidence to Help Your Claim: Keys to Proving Your Case

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

September 26, 2022

Evidence Needed to Win a Car Accident Case

Every day, negligent drivers hurt people. When a collision happens, you might be driving, walking, riding a bike, or a car passenger.

When a careless driver has injured you, you have the right to reasonable compensation for your losses. This entails submitting a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier for the vast majority of us.

The key to a successful insurance claim is good proof. We’ll show you how to obtain the proof you need and where to get it:

Establish that the at-fault driver is to blame for your injuries. Demonstrate the seriousness of your physical injuries Demonstrate the severity of your pain and suffering.

WHAT KINDS OF EVIDENCE DO YOU NEED TO GATHER?

The accident victim has the burden of proving that the insured motorist was to blame for their injuries. Evidence gathered at the spot and afterwards will aid in proving guilt.

The next step is to prove the extent of your injuries once the insurance adjuster acknowledges guilt on behalf of the insured motorist. Again, excellent documentation will show the extent and seriousness of your injuries.

Physical and circumstantial evidence will be used to support your car accident claim by you or your attorney.

PHYSICAL EVIDENCE GATHERING

Physical evidence includes items that can be seen and felt, such as: Medical files

Testimony of witnesses Photographs

Information from the police Clothing that is torn and bloodied

Your written account of the accident from public documents, including driving

 

records

Keep an eye out for circumstantial evidence.

The term “circumstantial evidence” refers to evidence that is indicated or hinted at. Although circumstantial evidence does not show the at-fault party’s responsibility, it might nonetheless assist you in framing your claim.

Let’s suppose a college student ran a red light and slammed into the side of your car, seriously injuring you.

You’ve hired a personal injury lawyer, and he or she has issued a subpoena for the at-fault driver’s mobile phone data. The phone records provide tangible proof that messages were exchanged at the precise moment of the accident.

If the motorist was alone in the car, the mobile phone records show that he or she was texting while driving.

If there was a passenger in the car, however, the cell phone evidence is just circumstantial. After all, the passenger may have been texting on the driver’s phone at the moment of the collision.

Although further evidence, such as a witness statement, may establish that the motorist was texting at the time of the accident, circumstantial evidence alone may be sufficient to persuade a jury that the driver was distracted.

CRUCIAL EVIDENCE FROM THE CRASH

Almost every car collision provides a limited window of opportunity for gathering critical sorts of evidence. There’s no better moment than just after an accident to take action. That is when the evidence is the most recent and readily available. Evidence becomes harder to get by after that window closes.

After the car accident, do your best to capture images.

Take photos and video of the surroundings around you using your mobile phone, including: The cars and their locations about one another

Close-ups of the car damage

The accident site, including stop signs and traffic lights

Accident debris on the road, such as car pieces and shattered glass

After a car collision, it’s impossible to capture too many images and movies. Take shots from as many different perspectives as you can safely.

Do not deny or postpone medical treatment to collect evidence. Your health should always come first. Refusing medical treatment at the site of an accident might jeopardize your injury claim.

QUICKLY GET WITNESS INFORMATION.

Witness testimony may be quite persuasive. Because the witness has no personal or financial stake in your claim, independent, third-party witness testimonies hold much weight with insurance adjusters.

Witnesses may also be able to supply evidence that you missed at the time of the accident. A witness, for example, may have overheard the at-fault motorist claim he didn’t see you or that he was texting just before the collision.

Independent witness testimony may be powerful proof of the at-fault driver’s carelessness and can aid in proving the degree of your injuries.

Bystanders are under no legal need to remain at the site, therefore attempting to get information from witnesses as soon as possible.

RETURN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO THE SCENE

Return to the accident area as quickly as possible to obtain further evidence. You could be shocked to find some objects you didn’t notice before. Broken car components, skid marks, or other evidence that contributed to the accident but was noticed at the time of the accident may be found in auto accidents.

If you’re unable to explore the location of your accident, enlist the help of a trustworthy friend or family member to look around, take photos, and write thorough notes about what they observe. Better still, engage a personal injury attorney. If you’ve been critically wounded in a car accident, you’ll need the help of an expert car accident lawyer to preserve your rights.

Prepare to capture additional photos and videos of the accident site, particularly if it occurred at night and you’re returning during the day.

There is no such thing as too many photographs. The first few days after an accident are generally when you find evidence that you may have overlooked at the time of the event.

THE VALUE OF POLICE ACCIDENT REPORTS

If the police arrive at the site of your collision, they will fill out an accident report. This report is yours for the taking. Although the structure of police reports varies by state, all accident reports include some crucial details.

The majority of the following information should be included in the police report:

ACCIDENT DATE

Double-check the accident date and time. A police officer may complete many reports in a single day and is prone to making errors. The date of the accident affects when the statute of limitations runs out, which is significant if you need to bring a case later.

ACCIDENT LOCATION

The location, like the date, is quite simple information. Verify that the police took down the correct address.

PEOPLE INVOLVED

Your name, the names of any passengers in your car, the name and address of the person who struck you, and any passengers in their car will all be included in the report.

CAR INFORMATION

The report will include the make and model of all cars involved, as well as their VINs (VIN). The owner of the other car will be identified as well. This is significant because additional insurance coverage might be available if the car’s owner was not the driver.

WITNESSES

Identify any witnesses to the collision by name, address, and phone number. If their testimony supports your side of the story, impartial witnesses can be especially useful.

DIAGRAMS

The officer may draw a diagram of what they observed on the scene. The roadway or intersection where the collision occurred, the direction the cars were travelling, and the cars’ location after the collision are usually included in the sketch.

PRIMARY CAUSE OF COLLISION

The police officer’s final determination of who caused the collision will be included in the report. Other factors that may have contributed to the collision, such as fog, snow, or the setting sun, may be mentioned in the report.

DAMAGES ASSESSMENT

This section details the location and extent of car damage to your car and the car that hit you. The type and extent of property damage can aid in determining who is to blame.

INSURANCE INFORMATION

Each car involved should have its own insurance company listed in the police report. The first step in filing a claim is to find out who to contact at your insurance company.

CHARGES

The report will conclude by stating whether the police officer issued a ticket or charged any of the drivers involved in the collision with DUI or other offences.

Obtaining a Copies of Police Reports

Your collision’s police report is a public record and can be obtained upon request. You can

usually request a copy directly from the investigating officer’s department. To see if you can order a copy online, go to the department’s website.

If the state police investigated your accident, you’d need to go to their office or website to obtain a copy of the report.

For a copy of your report, the law enforcement agency may charge a small fee. If an attorney represents you, they will obtain a copy for you.

PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL INJURIES SHOULD BE DOCUMENTED

Any medical expenses you incurred due to an accident caused by another driver are covered by your insurance. You must provide copies of your medical records and bills related to your injuries to the insurance company to recover these costs.

Obtaining copies of your medical records may incur a fee, though some states require doctors to provide free copies to maintain a payment lien.

Get all of your medical records and bills in one place.

An car accident can result in a variety of medical records and bills. You must keep track of everything that happened to you after the accident.

The following records may be relevant to your claim

EMS/AMBULANCE RECORDS

If your accident was serious enough to require an ambulance, you would receive a separate bill. Even if you didn’t use an ambulance to get to the hospital, you might have an EMS record. You can get these records and bills directly from the responding EMS unit, or you can look them up on the city or county website.

HOSPITAL RECORDS

Even if you were only evaluated and released from the emergency room, you would have records and bills from that visit. The hospital can provide you with copies of those records. Request copies of any X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or other costly tests you’ve had done.

MEDICAL RECORDS

Your treating doctor’s medical records are crucial to your claim. These records detail the extent of your injuries, the medical treatment you’ll need, and whether you’ll need follow-up care. You’ll need to obtain separate bills from each of your doctors.

PHYSICAL THERAPY RECORDS

To treat your injuries and return to your previous level of functioning, your doctor may refer you to physical therapy or rehab. You’ll need duplicates of those documents and bills.

MEDICATION RECORDS

Don’t forget to keep track of your medications. For as long as you need it, you have the right to recover the cost of any medication used to treat your injuries.

TRAVEL EXPENSES

Keep track of your mileage for trips to and from the doctor’s office, hospital, or physical therapist, as well as any other travel associated with your treatment. Save the receipts for the hotel and any meals you purchased, for example, if you had to stay in a hotel to see an out- of-town specialist.

OTHER RECORDS

The records listed above are typical for injury claims, but make sure you don’t overlook anything else. If you need crutches, a wheelchair, or another medical device due to your injury, you’ll need proof of those costs.

YOUR INJURIES IN PHOTOGRAPHS

Take photos of your injuries right after the accident and throughout your recovery, in addition to photos and videos of the accident scene. Keeping track of stitches, bruising, and abrasions can help you get the most money out of your settlement.

Videos of you walking with crutches or having other difficulties resulting from the accident are a great way to show the insurance adjuster your damages.

EVIDENCE OF SUFFERING AND PAIN

If you’ve recovered completely from relatively minor injuries, you should be able to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company directly. To compensate for your pain and suffering, you can reasonably ask for one or two times the amount of your medical bills.

In serious injury claims, the dollar value of pain and suffering can easily exceed five times the total medical expenses. However, you won’t be able to get high-dollar settlements on your own; you’ll need the help of a skilled car accident attorney.

You can use dated and descriptive notes as evidence of the pain, suffering, and emotional distress caused by your injuries, in addition to medical records documenting painful injuries.

Keep a dated journal or diary to write about the following topics: Pain levels daily

Nightmares and sleep disturbances

Anxiety or stress caused by your accident or injuries

Self-consciousness about requiring assistance with eating, dressing, bathing, or toileting.

Inability to look after children or another dependent Feelings of helplessness and depression

HOW TO PROVE WAGES AND INCOME THAT HAVE BEEN LOST

If you were unable to work due to accident-related injuries, you are entitled to compensation for any lost wages or other income. The nature of your job determines the documents you’ll require.

EMPLOYEES WHO WORK FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME

Any or all of the following documents, if a company or an individual employs you, can help you prove your lost wages:

TAX RETURNS AND W-2

Using the previous year’s tax return is the simplest and most reliable way to determine your lost wages.

PAY STUBS

Your most recent pay stubs will detail your weekly, bimonthly, or monthly earnings. Any raises or bonuses that weren’t reported on last year’s tax return can also be found on your paystub. The majority of states calculate lost wages based on your gross pre-tax earnings.

WAGE VERIFICATION FROM YOUR EMPLOYER: Request a statement from your employer confirming your wages. It should include your monthly salary or hourly wage, the number of hours you work per week, and any overtime pay you receive regularly.

EMPLOYED BY YOURSELF

If you’re self-employed or work solely on commission, you may need to make more effort to replace your lost income. The following documents may be of assistance:

TAX RETURNS

Last year’s tax returns can help you figure out your previous earnings, but they may not reflect your current earnings accurately. Pay fluctuations are common among self-employed people. Before using last year’s tax return, double-check that it accurately reflects the amount you expect to earn this year.

Bank Records

Bank records showing business revenue deposits are another way to figure out how much money you lost.

CONTRACTS AND PURCHASE ORDERS

Any contracts in which you are required to provide goods or services will detail your expected earnings for that time. The same thing happens with pending purchase orders.

INCLUDE ALL FORMS OF REMUNERATION.

Even if you took a vacation or sick leave to deal with your injuries, you are entitled to compensation for the time you were away from work.

Paid Time Off (PTO) that you took to treat your injuries is fully reimbursable. You can also include half-days and hours missed from work due to a doctor’s visit or physical therapy.

You may be entitled to compensation for any missed opportunities as a result of your injuries. Include those losses in your demand if the accident caused you to miss a job interview, bonus, or promotion opportunity.

PREVENT EVIDENCE SPOLIATION (LOSS OR DESTRUCTION)

Evidence that could be crucial to your injury claim or lawsuit can sometimes be misplaced, altered, discarded, or otherwise “spoiled.” The legal term is “evidence spoliation.”

Spoliation can occur inadvertently or on purpose. You or your attorney will send a “spoliation letter” to the business or person who has custody of the evidence to ensure that important evidence is preserved for your injury claim.

Evidence may be found in the following places in car accident cases: The at-fault motorist

The estate of the at-fault driver (if the driver died) If it was a company car, the driver’s employer The insurance firm

The spoliation letter informs the proper person that the evidence must be preserved in its original form. The letter also makes it more difficult for them to claim that the evidence was deleted inadvertently or in the course of business.

If you don’t have access to an attorney, you may include spoliation wording in your notification letter, informing the at-fault party that you plan to file a car accident claim.

Spoliation wording should specify the evidence to be kept and state that a lawsuit has been filed or may be brought to settle your claim if necessary.

SPOLIATION LANGUAGE AS AN EXAMPLE

You might use the following text in your notice of claim letter:

In addition, this letter serves as notice that you must properly preserve and maintain any information relevant to my claim in the event of litigation.

This includes the car involved in the event, pictures, video recordings, recorded audio or computer files, accident reports, and other evidence.

About the subject car accident, which is now in your possession, or the possession of an

employee or agent of yours.

Please make sure that this letter is sent to the person in your office who is in charge of the evidential materials related to this occurrence. You mustn’t throw away, change, or distort evidence in any way. Spoliation of evidence may be regarded if certain duties are not met.

YOU ARE NOT PERMITTED TO DISPOSE OF, ALTER, MODIFY, OR REMOVE THE PREVIOUS EVIDENCE OR ANY OTHER RELATED RECORDS.

Outside of a courtroom, there isn’t much you can do if the evidence is destroyed. If your car accident lawsuit goes to trial, your lawyer will convince the jury to believe that the missing evidence would have helped establish your case.

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