5 Evidence Gathering Tips for the Injured Plaintiff
In Arizona, as in other states, evidence of your injuries — whether in a motor vehicle accident or some other accident — is critical to support your legal claims against the defendant(s). Without sufficient evidence to support your claims, your claim will be dismissed and you will be left with no means for obtaining compensation.
Attorneys are valuable early-on, as they will guide your independent investigation of the facts of the case, and can connect you with experts who will not only assess the scene of the accident, but will also help assess the gathered evidence.
As a plaintiff, there are a number of ways in which you can help ensure that your case goes smoothly (from an evidence-gathering perspective). Consider the following.
Obtain Contact Info of Important Parties
Once you’ve been involved in an accident, you’ll want to first identify any and all potential defendants (i.e., the defendant-driver in a motor vehicle accident scenario). If you fail to identify the defendant and obtain their contact information, it can be rather challenging to litigate a claim against them, as the defendant may thereafter make attempts to evade litigation by maintaining their anonymity. This happens quite often in the hit-and-run context, where negligent drivers get away before the injured victim (or anyone else) is capable of properly identifying them.
Identification information need not only be phone numbers, emails, and addresses. It can be a description of the defendant, a photograph of the defendant, the license plate number of the defendant, a description of their property (i.e., color and model of their vehicle), and more. Anything that can be used to identify the defendant will be useful in pursuing litigation, particularly if the defendant is “slippery” and evasive.
This is also true of witnesses at the scene. Make sure to obtain their contact information so that you can request their presence later, once litigation has begun. A legitimate eyewitness account can spell the difference between a winning case and a losing case.
Write Notes and Take Photographs of the Accident
Taking notes of the accident — from identifying information to an account of what actually happened (i.e., the sequence of events leading up to the accident) — is incredibly useful as a tool for more accurately remembering the accident and the circumstances surrounding it.
Photographs are perhaps even more useful, as photographic evidence of the scene of the accident may be introduced as evidence and can be used by accident experts to help reconstruct the sequence of events and demonstrate — objectively — how the defendant’s actions led to your injuries. Don’t forget: photographs can be taken of your injuries to demonstrate what they looked like after the accident, and photographs can also be taken of property before the landowner makes safety modifications.
Preserve Damaged Property and other Physical Evidence
Damaged property can be valuable evidence. A damaged vehicle, for example, can be examined so that investigators can piece together the impact forces involved in a car accident and what angles these impacts occurred at. Further, if you were injured as the result of a defect in your vehicle, then preserving the evidence (as opposed to junking the vehicle, selling it, or repairing it) may be critical for demonstrating the existence of the defect.
Secure Medical Records
Medical records include a range of evidence, such as diagnostic reports, inpatient/outpatient reports, surgical reports, medical billing records, and more. Once you begin working with an attorney, he or she will begin gather all relevant medical record evidence for the purposes of litigation. As a general rule, however, it’s worth requesting copies of all your medical records from beginning-to-end of treatment. This makes it easier and faster to begin the process of litigation in earnest.
Obtain Evidence of Wage Loss
Wage loss (and loss of earning capacity) evidence includes payment records, work disciplinary records, and more. Any written evidence of days that you were forced to take off due to your injury, or partial days, or of any negative work-related incident associated with the injury (i.e., perhaps you were passed over for a promotion as you were deemed physically incapable — due to the lack of energy following the accident — of performing the role).
Evidence gathering and preservation is critical to the success of an injury lawsuit. Without adequate evidence to support your claims, they will not survive litigation. As such, it’s critical that you work with an attorney early on — with the aid of an attorney, you will have the resources necessary to investigate and secure sufficient evidence so that your injury claims are well-supported.
If you have been injured due to another’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions, call (602) 535-1900 today to connect to an experienced Phoenix injury lawyer here at Hirsch & Lyon. Initial consultation is free. Your attorney will work with you to assess your injury claims and help you navigate the challenging process of litigation.