Approximately six million vehicle accidents take place on America’s roadways each year according to reports from the traffic safety sector. More than 37,000 people lost their lives as a result of these crashes, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
Gathering as much information and documentation as possible after an accident is always the best policy. Still, whether preparing a brain trauma lawsuit or determining fault in a wrongful death, five specific pieces of evidence are critical to building a strong case.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, and this can be particularly true following an accident. It’s important to take multiple pictures from various angles. Be sure to include photos of any vehicle damage. Up-close shots show greater detail whereas those taken from a short distance away better illustrate the extent and positioning of the damage.
Capture other forms of evidence on camera as well, such as skid marks and damage to any signs, mailboxes, trees or other objects impacted by the crash. Tree branches, bushes and other obstructions blocking the view of signs, traffic signals or oncoming traffic should also make the cut.
These photos should be taken as soon as possible after the accident as proof of road conditions, lighting and additional relevant factors. Though dates and times the pictures were taken are likely to come under fire, digital cameras and those on mobile devices typically generate built-in date and timestamps. If you happen to have a dashcam, its video evidence could be also be priceless.
2) Witness Information
Law enforcement officials speak with bystanders immediately after an accident as a matter of standard protocol. Once the commotion dies down, though, those witnesses tend to disperse and go their own ways.
Collect their contact information before they have a chance to leave the scene because their testimonies will inevitably come back into play later on. Be sure to take down phone numbers and email addresses along with their names, so you’ll have multiple ways to contact them in the event one doesn’t pan out when the time comes to call on them.
3) Black Box Recordings
As of 2014, every new vehicle is required to be equipped with a black box according to an article from USA Today. These devices must keep tabs on 15 different variables, including speed, brake usage, throttle position, vehicle trajectory and whether or not seat belts are fastened. In cases where vehicles don’t have built-in black boxes, insurance or fleet tracking devices can also provide vital details surrounding an accident.
4) Proof of Injuries
This type of evidence can include photos and video footage, but those elements alone may not go very far in court. Ideally, injury documentation should begin with a visit to the emergency room immediately after an accident takes place even if you’re not experiencing any pain. While explaining the full effects of adrenaline on the human body, one medical expert pointed out injuries may not present themselves until a few days after the fact.
Gather documentation of hospital stays, follow-up appointments, specialist referrals, physical therapy sessions and any other required medical care. Doing so will help ensure opposing parties can’t assert your injuries were less extensive than you claim or weren’t direct results of the accident.
5) Verification of Lost Wages
Victims are often entitled to compensation for time missed from work due to injuries acquired in an accident. This is the case even if injuries aren’t severe enough to warrant an extended leave of absence. In addition to statements from medical professionals and healthcare facilities providing care for those injuries, be sure to obtain doctor’s notes for work. From there, have your employer provide proof of any income lost in the process.
Even seemingly inconsequential details can make or break a personal injury claim. Virtually any piece of evidence could come into play, but some shouldn’t be overlooked. Pictures, video, black box data, witnesses’ contact information, injury documentation and proof of lost wages will certainly go a long way toward strengthening your case.