Posted in Car Accidents on November 22, 2019
The first days after a car accident are critical for gathering evidence that can help you defend your story and obtain the help you need. What you preserve during this time can be the difference between winning your case and losing it. It’s important to document as much as possible. But what exactly should you preserve? Here are some steps you should take to preserve evidence after an accident.
Police reports contain a lot of the critical accident-related details that can be easy to forget or remember incorrectly. The police report is completed by officers who are objective third parties, so their statements are looked upon as more accurate than your retelling alone. Having a police report that backs up your account of the accident can be extremely beneficial to your personal injury case.
There are two main methods you can use to obtain the police report pertaining to your accident. The first way you can obtain the report is to contact the law enforcement office that drafted the initial report. You can typically refer to the report identification number on the receipt that the reporting officer should have given you at the scene. If you give this number to the traffic division of the reporting law enforcement office, you can usually obtain the report quickly. However, this method will usually require an administrative fee of around $15.
If you don’t have your report number, the clerical assistant should be able to locate it using basic information like your name, the time and date of the accident, and where the accident occurred.
If you’d rather not have to pay the fee, you can ask your insurance company if they requested a copy of the report. If they did, they will usually have no problem with sending you a free copy.
Regardless of the method by which you receive your report, keep in mind that it may take the investigating officer some time to complete the report. However, as soon as the report is complete, you should be able to obtain it with no problems.
If possible, it may benefit you to return to the scene of the accident to obtain certain forms of evidence. For instance, you may be able to photograph road conditions, sign placement, tire marks, impact areas, and other significant pieces of evidence. While you are well within your rights to return to the scene in pursuit of evidence, it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, never interfere with a police investigation. If officers are present and are conducting an investigation, come back later. Interfering with their investigative process, including removing or altering evidence at the scene after the fact, is bad for your case and in many instances could subject you to criminal charges. Second, keep your safety and the safety of others as your first priority. If you can’t take photos or collect evidence without putting yourself or others in danger, don’t do it. Provide any evidence you were able to safely collect to your personal injury attorney right away.
It might not be possible to contact witnesses after an accident given that you might not know who they are. However, if any witnesses did provide their contact information to you, be sure to follow up with them and see if they would be willing to back you up if necessary. Also, keep in mind that witnesses don’t have to be people who were driving near the accident. People in nearby parking lots or businesses can often provide valuable testimony. In fact, witnesses don’t have to be people at all. Were there any businesses near the accident? Contact them to find out if they have outdoor surveillance. If they do, pass that information onto your personal injury attorney as video evidence is often the best evidence.
Pictures can be some of the best evidence you can produce because photos never lie. Take photos of all the damage to your vehicle. Doing so can paint a compelling picture of the speed and magnitude of the impact. You’ll also want to take progressive photos of any injuries you sustained. This is particularly important where bruises are concerned since they often take a few hours or days to fully appear. Finally, take pictures of any casts, bandages, braces, crutches, or other medical aides you had to use as a result of the accident. This evidence helps to substantiate the severity of the impact and provides support for your claims of hardship, pain, and stress.
Make sure to keep copies of all your medical records pertaining to the accident. Documenting the medical care you received and how much it cost you is critical to validating your claims and proving that you were as injured as you say you were. Also, keep records of financial loss. Financial loss can include anything from vehicle repair and physical therapy costs to lost wages or money you had to spend on public transportation when your car was being repaired. Any records that demonstrate how the accident impacted you in a fiscal way will be helpful to your personal injury attorney.
The best option for most people who have been involved in a serious car accident is to hire a personal injury attorney. We specialize in cases where people have suffered physical, financial, emotional, and property damage due to an injury. Never try to navigate the legal system alone. Hiring an experienced and reputable personal injury attorney in New Orleans can be the difference between getting the financial support you need and being on your own.
While there are other ways in which you can collect evidence pertaining to your accident, these are some of the most practical and realistic steps that the average person can take to gather critical support for their claims. Of course, the best evidence is gathered at the scene, so any photos, witness information, videos, and police reports you can obtain will certainly help you substantiate your story. However, be sure to stay safe when collecting evidence, and provide anything you have to your personal injury attorney. We may be able to use that information to craft a defense and help you need during this difficult time.
If you sustained any injuries, contact a New Orleans car accident lawyer at The Law Office of John W. Reddman, LLC to discuss your options. You can reach our team for a free consultation by calling (504) 500-5000 or sending us a request via our online contact form. Se Habla Español.