How to Preserve Evidence for a Personal Injury Claim
For a personal injury case to be successful, you will need to have strong evidence to corroborate your story. Evidence is critical to establish fault, prove the extent of your injuries, and estimate how much compensation you will need. Without enough evidence, the court or insurance company will likely dismiss your claim. However, you can preserve evidence to support your future case.
How to Prove a Personal Injury Claim
Proving a personal injury case depends on whether you are filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. During the insurance process, a claims adjuster will conduct an independent investigation to determine who was responsible for the accident. You will need to provide the insurance company with clear evidence that establishes the other party’s fault.
If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove the defendant’s negligence. You will need to provide sufficient evidence to support four key elements.
- Duty of care: The at-fault party owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident.
- Breach of duty: The at-fault party breached his or her duty of care through a negligent act or failure to act.
- Causation: The at-fault party’s breach of duty directly caused your accident and subsequent injuries.
- Damages: You suffered damages, such as medical expenses or lost wages, that you can recover compensation for in your lawsuit.
How to Preserve Evidence After an Accident
If someone else’s actions injure you, preserving evidence is crucial to securing compensation for your losses. To proactively protect yourself and support your future claim, take the following steps to preserve evidence and seek help.
- Seek medical attention. One of the most important steps you can take to preserve evidence is to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you do not feel hurt. Your medical records will form the foundation of your claim, proving the extent of your injuries and establishing how much compensation you will need to recover. After the accident, go to the hospital and save every document related to your treatment and injuries.
- Take photographs of the accident scene. Photos play a critical role in personal injury claims. If you can move around after the accident without further injury, take as many pictures from as many angles as possible of your visible injuries, damage to your property, and the area around the accident.
- Speak to witnesses. If there are any witnesses who saw your accident, ask for their contact information. These individuals could provide testimony on your behalf. If you are unable to collect this information at the scene, the police report will usually include the names of witnesses you can contact later.
- Save physical evidence. After the accident, do not throw away your clothes or pieces of personal property that suffered damage. Your attorney may be able to use them as evidence in your claim. Keep these items in a safe place until your lawyer tells you otherwise.
How Can Your Attorney Help Collect Evidence?
In some cases, collecting evidence can be a challenge. You may not have the authority to access certain documents, such as trucking logs or surveillance footage. In these situations, your attorney can help you collect this evidence by sending anti-spoliation letters, deposing witnesses, or filing claims through California’s Public Records Act.
As soon as possible after your accident, contact a San Diego personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Your attorney will evaluate available evidence and advise you on your optimal path to maximum recovery.