In a typical year, close to 13,000 people suffer injuries or tragically lose their lives in car accidents in Orange County, CA. No one plans to be a part of this statistic, but if you find yourself involved in a vehicle accident, know that gathering evidence in car accident cases can play a crucial role in your personal injury claim.
Knowing how to collect the right evidence can strengthen your claim and help you win a settlement.
Why Gathering Evidence on the Accident Scene Is Important
Gathering evidence might be the last thing on your mind after a car accident. You may be injured, shocked, and overwhelmed. Your primary concern will naturally be your own safety and the well-being of any other people involved in the accident. You may even be unconscious or immobilized.
In emergencies, seeking urgent medical care naturally takes priority. But if possible, you should document every detail about the accident scene as it was at the time of the crash. Some details, like the position of vehicles or broken guardrails, are only possible to capture immediately after the accident.
Insurance companies require solid proof before approving claims. Moreover, insurers may look for loopholes to deny or minimize your claim. The more evidence you can present to support your case, the better.
Crucial On-the-Spot Evidence in Car Accident Cases
While on the accident scene, take multiple photos and clear video footage of:
- Your vehicle and other vehicles that were involved in the crash
- Crushed glass, detached car parts, and other debris
- Potholes, road bumps, and skid marks
- Stoplights and street signs
- The street angle, traffic volume, and any other objects or details you believe may have contributed to the accident
Additionally, gather the contact information of any witnesses on the scene. You could even record quick video statements by people who saw the accident. Witness testimony can play a vital part in supporting your claim and determining fault.
California uses a comparative fault system in awarding compensation to injured motorists. If your case is worth $100,000 but you carry 30% of the fault for the accident, your settlement drops to $70,000. Reliable evidence from the accident scene can help you prove the other side’s fault and boost your payout amount.
The Police Report
In California, you have a duty to report any car accident that caused injuries to the local police department or the California Highway Patrol. It’s preferable to wait for the police officers at the scene, but if this is impossible, you can report the accident within 24 hours.
The police report will typically contain details like:
- The accident’s exact time, date, and location
- The names and contact details of anyone involved in the accident
- Documentation of the injuries, damage to vehicles, and any other damage that occurred
- Road conditions, weather, and other important details related to the accident
- Statements by involved motorists and witnesses
- The police officer’s notes or observations
The police report is a vital piece of evidence in car accident cases. The investigating police officer will give all involved parties a copy of the report on the scene, but if you report the accident later or misplace your report, you can call your local police department and ask for a copy.
What if the police report contains factual errors or misses crucial information? These details could hinder or slow down your claim process. You can try to contact the investigating police officer, alert them of any mistakes in the report, and respectfully ask them to amend it, but ultimately, the decision to alter a police report belongs to the investigating officer.
Your Medical Records
Please visit your doctor for a thorough medical check-up after an accident, even if you don’t believe you sustained an injury. Some injuries involve gradual onset symptoms, and a couple of days may pass before you realize you’ve suffered damage to your spine or head.
Timely medical care is crucial not only for your health but also for building a solid body of evidence to support your personal injury claim. Save all medical documentation, including:
- Detailed copies of medical and hospitalization records
- Diagnostic images like X-rays and MRIs
- A log of all your appointments with the name of your healthcare providers
- All your medical bills
- A physician’s note stating your inability to work during the medical care period
Other Records, Reports, and Evidence for Car Accident Cases
Other important evidence in car accident cases may include:
- Workplace reports in which you state you suffered an accident and are unable to work
- Vehicle maintenance records that document damage to your car
- Dash cam footage that captures the accident or footage from local surveillance cameras
- A written account that notes the accident’s details — make sure to write it all down while your memory is fresh.
Investigating a claim may involve additional evidence, like expert witness testimonies, cell phone records, and even social media posts.
What to Do with the Evidence You Collected
The next step after collecting documentation related to your accident is incorporating this evidence into a compelling car accident claim. An experienced car accident attorney can:
- Organize your available evidence and use it to build a powerful claim
- Help you source more evidence, e.g., request the other motorist’s mobile phone records or recommend hiring expert witnesses
- File your claim in compliance with all procedures and deadlines
- Handle negotiations with insurance providers
- Advocate for your rights throughout the claim process
- Represent your interests if your claim ends up in the courtroom
Khalil Law Group Can Help You Seek Compensation After a Vehicle Accident in Orange County, CA
Did you suffer a car accident in Orange County? Our dedicated legal team will walk you through all the steps of a vehicle accident claim, from gathering crucial evidence in car accident cases to negotiating a settlement offer that compensates you for your injuries, lost wages, and property damage.
Call (714) 617-7870 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Newport Beach, CA.