In order to recover damages in a personal injury claim – whether through settlement or a court judgment – you will need to present evidence. There are many pieces of evidence that you could use to help your case but not all of them are easy to acquire. For that reason, you should retain the services of a seasoned car accident attorney. We could use our past experiences and connections to help you collect evidence in an Atlanta car accident case.
What is Some Common Evidence in Car Accident Cases?
Before filing a claim, an attorney could gather evidence to illuminate the facts of the case, including any police reports. The police report might identify other evidence that law enforcement has already collected, such as photographs or dash cam footage. An attorney could look for this information with an open records request. Medical records can also provide valuable evidence at the outset of a case, such as listing treatment provided on the day of the accident and in the subsequent days, weeks, and months.
How the Circumstances Can Affect Evidence-Gathering
Gathering evidence can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Law enforcement typically conducts a more significant investigation into car accident cases that involve fatalities. In most fatality cases, the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT) is called out. They will conduct a detailed accident investigation and reconstruction that involves taking many photographs and measurements, much of which could be used as evidence.
For standard car accident cases where the significance of the injuries is not apparent at the time of the incident, the initial investigation may be brief and limited. It is not uncommon for the accident report or citation to be the only evidence obtained from the police. The accident’s severity, location, and investigating entities should be considered, as each factor can impact the extent of incident-related evidence to be uncovered.
What is the Process for Collecting Evidence?
The typical evidence collection process for car accident cases in Atlanta begins with us immediately submitting an open records request. This request asks the investigating entity, such as the police department or the Georgia State Patrol, to provide all the information they have. A preservation notice for accident-related information may also be sent to the defendant, particularly if they are a corporate entity or trucking company, although such a defendant is unlikely to turn over much of their evidence without a lawsuit. Regardless, it is important to put them notice of the claim so that they preserve the evidence. Once a lawsuit is filed, we could force them to provide that evidence.
The Timeframe for Collecting and Presenting Evidence
Collecting evidence to present in court is done in phases. The first phase is the pre-suit, wherein we collect information through open record requests or people voluntarily providing it. This can take a matter of months, depending on the nature of the case and the severity of the injuries. More sensitive or critical information can be gathered through litigation. We could subpoena documents, including those from defendants, non-parties, and even companies who can provide phone records. The process of formal litigation, discovery, and record-collection typically takes six months to one year.
After we collect the initial documentary evidence, the next step is often to take sworn depositions related to that evidence. Depositions can include testimony from the parties involved in the accident, witnesses, law enforcement officers who investigated the scene, or medical doctors who provided care. It is important that we collect information and assemble it in a fashion that can be presented to a jury in an understandable way.
The Defendant’s Capability of Gathering Evidence
It is important for plaintiffs to know that evidence-gathering process is a two-way street. While we actively gather relevant information from the defendant and law enforcement, the defendant also has the right to gather information from the plaintiff’s side in a local auto collision case. It is critical that plaintiffs preserve any information and are aware that the defendant will likely seek to obtain any and all evidence they can in order to challenge the case. That includes scouring social media for comments or posts pertaining to the incident, the injuries, or physical abilities, and using it against the plaintiff.
The injured individual should understand from the outset that they need to preserve responsive information and be accurate in their statements to medical providers. They should also refrain from posting anything regarding the accident on social media.
Work with an Attorney to Collect Evidence in an Atlanta Car Accident
After sustaining serious injuries, you may be too hurt or rattled to properly consider preserving evidence for a potential trial. In addition, some documents might require you to jump through hoops and contact the right people in order to obtain them. A legal professional could assist in collecting evidence in an Atlanta car accident to be used to win compensation. Contact us now for a free consultation.