When police and other first responders arrive at a car accident scene, they are there to secure the area, get the wrecked cars moved, collect a few basic facts, and make sure that injured victims get the medical attention they need. They are not there to collect evidence that the victim can use in a future negligence case.
Evidence gathering is a very critical piece of the puzzle. In court, victims/plaintiffs must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Without the right evidence, the case falters and they do not receive fair compensation for their injuries.
In most cases, such compensation includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Sometimes, a victim can ask for punitive damages. Seek a consultation from an auto accident lawyer Atlanta GA trusts if you think you could fall under this category.
Basic Evidence Collection
It is a good idea to share this post with a trusted friend or loved one, because many times, the victims are too seriously injured to carry out these steps themselves.
Get the names and contact information of as many witnesses as possible. Many people that will not talk to the police, for whatever reason, are willing to talk to an accident victim or the victim’s representative. Even if the witness did not see the whole incident, such a witness can often either fill in the gaps or back up what other witnesses state. Even if the witness saw things that do not help the victim/plaintiff’s case, such a witness helps an attorney prepare for some insurance company defenses. And sometimes even if a witness spoke with the officer, the officer may have taken down the statement incorrectly.
Also, make a note of any surveillance video in the area. That could be a red-light camera at an intersection, a nearby security camera, or an amateur videographer with a cell phone camera. At the same time, take pictures of physical evidence, such as skidmarks and property damage.
Lastly, don’t post anything to social media about your accident or your opinions.
Advanced Evidence Collection
Most passenger vehicles on the road has an Event Data Recorder. This device, which is basically a “black box” for cars, can capture and record data like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Engine RPM, and
- Brake application.
Information like this is often important in a car crash case. Beginning in 2018, many commercial vehicles will have an Electronic Logging Device. The ELD is connected to the vehicle’s ignition and so it gives very accurate information regarding the operator’s driving habits as they related to fatigued driving. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of commercial vehicle crashes.
Privacy laws make it very important to partner with an experienced attorney who knows how to use all this evidence.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Butler Law Firm for their insight on this subject.