Having Witnesses and Evidence

Read Time: 3.5 minutes

TL;DR

  • The longer you wait to start speaking with people, the harder it will be for them to recall exactly what happened. Peoples’ memories become unclear and can even disappear over time. Oftentimes, witnesses will be hard to find. This is especially true for car accidents.
  • If you are in a car accident, make sure that pictures are taken of your vehicle, the scene of the accident, and any other cars involved. Depending on the severity of your injuries, this may not be something you can do at the scene of the collision.
  • Evidence collected at the time of the incident includes, but is not limited to, the police report of the accident, photos and videos of the scene of the accident and any vehicles involved, your medical records and diagnostic testing, photographs and video of your injuries and any property damage, and any files dealing with claims for insurance coverage based on the accident.
  • Anyone who witnessed the accident leading to your injuries would probably be a great witness. So would the officer who prepared your police report, and any witnesses this officer spoke to in compiling the report.
  • Even if your case settles, which it is likely to, your settlement will depend on how strong your case would be if it proceeded to trial. Settlements are not based on what you are actually owed for your damages, they are based on what you are likely to be awarded in damages at trial. If you have a volume of good, reliable evidence that tells a strong story of the accident and the injuries you sustained as a result of that accident, you are likely to receive a favorable settlement.

If you are pursuing a claim for damages following an accident, witnesses and evidence are extremely important to your personal injury case. A successful outcome will depend largely on what you can prove with the witnesses and evidence you present. This article will describe the importance of collecting evidence and having witnesses in a personal injury case.

 

When should I start collecting evidence and finding witnesses?

The simple answer to this question is as soon as possible. The longer you wait to start speaking with people, the harder it will be for them to recall exactly what happened. Peoples’ memories become unclear and can even disappear over time. Oftentimes, witnesses will be hard to find. This is especially true for car accidents. Although many people may see an accident happen, most will keep driving or walking and will never report what they’ve witnessed. If possible, it is a very good idea to start getting witnesses’ names and contact information at the scene of the crime. But, depending on the severity of your injuries, this may not be an option for you.

Likewise, it is always easier to find documentation closer to the date of the accident. Doctors and hospitals do not retain medical records forever, so it is wise to request them early on and keep requesting them. Obtain a copy of the police report as soon as you can. Your medical records and police report will most likely include information provided by others whom you can contact to also serve as witnesses, such as bystanders at the scene of the crash as well as your doctors and nurses that cared for you. All of these people can make great witnesses for your case later on as they can speak to what happened during the accident, and the extent of your injuries.

If you are in a car accident, make sure that pictures are taken of your vehicle, the scene of the accident, and any other cars involved. Again, depending on the severity of your injuries, this may not be something you can do at the scene of the collision.

 

What kind of evidence and witnesses should I look for?

In a personal injury case, there are lots of different kinds of evidence that can help to prove your case. This includes, but is not limited to, the police report of the accident, photos and videos of the scene of the accident and any vehicles involved, your medical records and diagnostic testing, photographs and video of your injuries and any property damage, and any files dealing with claims for insurance coverage based on the accident.

As mentioned above, anyone who witnessed the accident leading to your injuries would probably be a great witness. So would the officer who prepared your police report, and any witnesses this officer spoke to in compiling the report. All of your healthcare providers, both prior to and after the accident, can speak to your health before your injuries’ and how it has changed. Insurance claims adjusters can also report on the evidence they’ve found, but be wary of their testimony—adjusters do not represent you. Their job is to pay out claims for as little as possible in a short amount of time.

You may also want to have expert witnesses testify as to the accident and your injuries. There are many professionals who specialize in the science and mechanics of accidents, as well as injuries caused by those accidents. Having an expert witness can be very persuasive in arguing your case.

 

Why should I collect evidence and witnesses if the case will most likely settle?

A lot of people make the mistake of relying on their case to settle instead of proceeding to trial. Even if your case settles, which it is likely to, your settlement will depend on how strong your case would be if it proceeded to trial. Settlements are not based on what you are actually owed for your damages, they are based on what you are likely to be awarded in damages at trial. If you have a volume of good, reliable evidence that tells a strong story of the accident and the injuries you sustained as a result of that accident, you are likely to receive a favorable settlement.

Collecting, organizing and interpreting all of the above described evidence can complicated and exhausting. If you have been injured and are in need of compensation, contact our office. We can help you every step of the way through your personal injury case.

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