Car accidents can be costly and emotional, especially if there are serious injuries or fatalities involved. Further complicating the situation is having to prove your claim in order to recover damages and medical bills. It can seem like an insurmountable uphill battle.
Sometimes, determining the at-fault driver is easy. However, in other cases, fault may not be as obvious, opening the door for some drivers to deny any responsibility for the accident. Evidence is vital to proving your claim, and the burden of proof to establish the other driver’s liability will be on you as the claimant seeking damages. The more evidence you are able to show helps insurance companies or the judicial system determine fault and appropriate compensation. Evidence will also help protect you from false claims made against you by the at-fault driver.
In car accident cases, more is better. Gather, photograph, and collect as much as you can at the scene if you are able. First and foremost, if you are seriously injured, call for emergency medical assistance.
While gathering evidence at the time of the accident is ideal, it does not mean that you can only gather evidence at that time. Law enforcement called to the scene will be documenting everything and will interview you later at the hospital or at your home. Do not assume all is lost in proving your case; there are many other ways of obtaining evidence after the fact. However, if you are physically able, the following list contains evidence you should gather to support your accident claim.
Calling law enforcement to the crash is always recommended. The officers on scene will take notes, document the scene, take statements from both drivers, passengers, and witnesses, determine which driver is responsible, and write up an official report. Police reports are public record, and you are entitled and should obtain a copy, even if you do not agree with some of the information. You are able to appeal later. This is a key document to have when filing your claim with the insurance company.
Photographs and Videos
Photographs and videos are vital forms of evidence. Once the vehicles are removed and debris cleared out of the way for other motorists, the accident scene will no longer exist, which can make proving your case difficult with no supporting photographs or videos.
Photograph everything around the crash, whether you may think it is relevant at the time or not. Some evidence may not appear as relevant at the time, but could prove to be important later.
Document the scene from both your perspective and the other driver’s point of view. If you are not physically able to photographs or videos of the scene yourself, ask someone with you or a witness to document everything. Be sure to include photographs and videos of the following:
- Injuries: Take photographs and videos of your injuries as well as the injuries of your passengers.
- Property damage: Document all damage to both cars, the road, signs, sidewalks, median strips, landscaping, buildings, and anything else that was damaged by the crash.
- Debris at crash site: Car accidents generally create at least some debris, such as glass from windows, metal, or plastic from broken parts of the cars, shredded tires, and more. Also, note if there is debris in the road from another source that may have caused the accident, such as a large tree branch.
- Skid marks or other signs of damage: Note damaged road or business signs, ruts in the median, or roadside gravel or grass if the cars left the road. Photograph any and all damage you believe to be caused from the accident, as much of this will be repaired over time.
- Traffic and security camera footage: At the scene, photograph the location of these cameras in order to know where they are located so you can request footage later. Request any footage as soon as possible before it is recorded over or deleted altogether.
- Road conditions: Documenting the condition of the road at the time of the crash is vital, particularly if the conditions caused the accident. Rain, sleet, snow, and ice make road conditions especially hazardous, causing hundreds of thousands of accidents. This will change when the weather improves, so photographing the road conditions at the time of the accident is important.
- Signs and lights: Make note of all nearby traffic signs, temporary road construction signs, and lighting in the area.
Gather statements from any witnesses, including passengers. Collect names, contact information, and ask them to share any photographs or videos they may have taken.
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, it is always in your best interest to be evaluated by a medical professional following a car accident. Medical reports are important to your claim as well. Without a medical report, there is an increased chance the insurance company will deny the claim.
Event Data Recorder
Request information from the event data recorder (EDR). Nearly all newer model vehicles are equipped with EDRs, similar to an airplane’s black box. As the vehicle moves, the EDR measures the gravitational force and will recognize and record the force of impact. In addition, the vehicle black box also records the speed, date, and time of impact, if the drivers were braking or not, steering angle, distance, and time traveled, and other information of how the car was operating at the time of the accident. This can be extremely useful information if the other driver is denying responsibility for causing the accident and refuting liability.
Obtaining the data from both cars’ EDR systems will tell the insurers exactly what happened. Keep in mind, requesting the data from the other driver’s vehicle may require a court order.
Auto Recall Information
Auto parts recall information should be obtained if possible, this may initiate a products liability claim, potentially putting the manufacturer at fault. This is also useful to determine whether the other driver ignored notifications and did not seek repair or replacement of a faulty auto part.
Cellphone Records of the Other Driver
Obtaining these records will require a court order but may be worth taking the time to obtain. Cellphone records can show if the driver was actively using their phone and was distracted at the time of the crash.
Social Media Posts
Social media posts or comments by the other driver and their passengers involved in the accident can help your claim. This can take a fair amount of time and may not result in much information, but it is worth looking into just in case. The driver and others may be engaging in publicly posting about the accident, making statements different than their official one, and posting photographs and videos that may be useful evidence for your claim.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me With Evidence?
You should speak with a lawyer to help you gather evidence and submit your claim. Retaining a seasoned car accident lawyer is highly recommended in order to obtain the best possible outcome in your case, especially if the other driver and insurance company are refuting your version of events. In some cases, a lawyer may hire an accident reconstruction team to develop a digital recreation of the collision to support your claim along with your other evidence.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help Clients Gather Evidence After Car Accidents
If you have been involved in a collision, our experienced Virginia car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help you gather evidence to support your claim. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.