A successful personal injury case begins and ends with good evidence. When you need to prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injuries, it’s evidence that proves your lack of fault and the other party’s liability.
However, the process of investigating the causes of your injuries and collecting evidence can be time-consuming and exhausting, especially if you’re still injured and recovering. Fortunately, a personal injury attorney can help you through this process.
Keep reading to learn about evidence collection in personal injury law and find out how an attorney can take on the hard work of preserving the evidence in your case.
Why Evidence Matters in a Personal Injury Case
Physical evidence is often critical in determining fault after an accident. Tangible objects carry more weight in negotiations and during a trial than personal testimony, which is notoriously unreliable in the best circumstances and only gets less dependable as time passes. Physical evidence, properly documented and saved, won’t disappear, and it not only provides objective proof of the extent of the damages but can also help establish fault. A dented car door, a destroyed bike frame, and a photo of the road conditions at the time of the crash are all examples of evidence victims will want to preserve.
Why Some Evidence Disappears Over Time
After an accident, the last things most people want around are reminders of the trauma they’ve suffered. Scrapping the ruined bike, fixing the car door, and forgetting the event ever happened seem like natural next steps to getting your life back. But no matter how tempting it is to repair or destroy these uncomfortable reminders, documenting and preserving them is critical if you want the chance to receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
It’s especially critical to document evidence that degrades quickly. Skid marks on the road eventually wear away, security footage frequently gets deleted in as little as 48 hours, and witnesses forget details. Victims and their families can try to document this evidence themselves, but without the special training and experience that attorneys have, it’s easy to miss crucial details and types of evidence that don’t stand out to the untrained eye.
How to Save Evidence in Your Injury Case
There are several proactive strategies you can take to preserve evidence for your case or on behalf of a loved one who has been injured.
Write Everything Down
As soon as you have space and time to think, write down everything you can remember about the accident. Be as specific and meticulous as you can. What seems obvious to you now can fade and change over time; preserving your fresh memories will be critical as you establish your case.
Document Your Injuries
Going to the doctor is not only the surest route to recovering, but it’s also the best way to document your injuries for a lawsuit. See a doctor right away after a wreck and get a full physical assessment, even if you feel like your injuries aren’t severe. Adrenaline from the incident can mask pain and trauma, and some injuries, like brain and back injuries, often take time to show the full range of their symptoms.
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Make sure your physician understands the nature of how you were hurt and makes detailed notes about the severity of your injuries, and attend any follow-up appointments ordered by your doctor. If you get any medical bills during this time, save those as evidence, too.
Take Photos of Everything You Can
Photos play a critical role in documenting evidence that would otherwise disappear. Take the highest quality photos you can of your damaged vehicle and any property involved in the accident (like a bike helmet). Also, document the scene of the accident using photos if you can. Pictures of your injuries that wouldn’t otherwise be included in a standard medical exam are also helpful.
Save Your Clothes
Saving bloodstained clothing might seem distasteful, but it’s wise to keep damaged articles of clothing until your lawyer tells you can wash them or throw them away.
Connect With Witnesses
While police will usually include the names of witnesses in the police report, it’s always a good idea to get the names and contact information of witnesses yourself if you can. You and your attorney can contact them later to secure valuable testimony.
How Attorneys Save Evidence
Having an experienced injury attorney on your side is the best way to make sure you’re gathering all the available evidence that can help build your case. A skilled attorney can draw from their experience and expertise to preserve evidence that would otherwise disappear quickly and document evidence that requires a very specific protocol.
Some of the strategies attorneys use to preserve evidence in an injury case include:
Sending an Anti-Spoliation Letter
When there’s a damaged object that acts as evidence in a personal injury case, it’s critical that this object remains intact as evidence. An attorney can write an anti-spoliation letter that orders the individual in possession of that object to preserve it. This letter should be hand-delivered or otherwise sent using a method that provides proof of receipt.
Anyone who destroys evidence after receiving an anti-spoliation letter is subject to sanctions under the law. Anti-spoliation letters are especially critical in cases where the defendant has a piece of evidence that could help your case — for example, if their car is damaged in a way that supports your arguments and not theirs. The anti-spoliation letter forces the defendant to keep the evidence rather than dispose of it and help their own case.
Collect Official Witness Testimony
Official testimony needs to be given under oath, either during an in-person questioning period called a deposition or as a sworn written account called an affidavit. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands how to conduct a deposition and ask the right questions to uncover all the factors that led to your injuries.
Recover Surveillance Footage
Businesses often erase surveillance footage before long unless they receive notice that they need to preserve it. If your injuries occurred in an area covered by surveillance cameras, like a parking structure or outside a business, then your attorney may be able to request and recover the footage before it’s erased.
Take Advantage of the Open Records Act
Many intersections have traffic cameras installed, and the footage from these cameras is available to car wreck victims through the Open Records Act. Your attorney can go through the red tape of recovering this footage while you focus on healing from the physical and emotional trauma you’ve suffered.
Myers Law Firm: Helping Injured Victims in North Carolina Preserve Evidence
If you’ve suffered because of someone else’s negligence and need help gathering evidence and demanding fair compensation for your losses, Myers Law Firm is here to help. Our attorneys are experts at collecting difficult, time-sensitive evidence, and we’ll do what it takes to uncover the causes of your injuries and demand compensation from those responsible.
Initial consultations for injured victims are always free and confidential. To schedule your free consultation, call (888) 376-2889 or complete our easy and convenient online contact form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.