Our legal system is not designed to automatically compensate accident victims. As unfair as it may seem, the law puts the burden on victims to prove a personal injury case. Victims must have evidence to show they were injured in the accident and that the other party was at fault. Those who cannot produce this evidence will lose their case and receive no compensation from the other party.
Furthermore, producing just enough evidence to secure a favorable judgment does little good. The goal is not merely to win the case. The goal is to recover enough money to compensate the victim for all losses and suffering – to achieve justice, in other words. Gathering evidence about the accident and using it to build a strong case is the only way to make this happen.
Documenting Physical Injury
Medical records are the cornerstone of every personal injury claim. A strong correlation exists between the amount of necessary medical treatment the victim receives and the total amount of damages awarded at the conclusion of the case. This is because:
An accident victim’s demand for compensation must be substantiated with records from medical treatment providers. As far as the insurance company is concerned, no medical records means no injury.
In fact, gathering medical records is so important that it should usually be handled by the victim’s personal injury firm. The firm will obtain a signed HIPAA release from the client and use it to obtain records directly from the treatment providers. Records may include:
- Emergency room
- Primary care physician
- Orthopedic surgeon
- Other medical specialists
- Physical therapy
When speaking with their treatment providers, accident victims should openly discuss the pain they are experiencing, so the medical records reflect that evidence. Victims can take additional steps to document their injuries by photographing them, keeping a journal, and speaking with a loved one about day-to-day suffering (so that person can later testify on the subject, if necessary).
Collecting Proof of the Other Party’s Fault
The evidence necessary to prove the other party was at fault can vary greatly from case to case. For example, in a dog bite accident, the victim may only need to show ownership of the animal. On the other hand, in a medical malpractice case, the victim will need to hire an expert to give testimonial evidence about what the doctor or hospital did wrong.
The party responsible for causing an accident may even admit to being at fault. However, even when there is no dispute over the question of liability, victims and their attorneys should be vigilant in preserving evidence. Consider the following hypothetical:
You are stopped at an intersection when another vehicle smashes into you from behind. The other driver is obviously at fault and the police report reflects that fact. Even though liability is clear, your law firm’s investigator visits the scene, measures skid marks, and speaks to eye witnesses. It turns out the other driver was speeding through a school zone and talking on a cell phone at the time of the accident. You are now in an even stronger position to negotiate a settlement. Not only did the other driver make a mistake, but the conduct was truly reprehensible.
If the case described above were to proceed to trial, the jurors would be very upset to learn about the defendant’s blatant disregard for the safety of others. That could translate into a sizable damage award for you. Insurance adjusters understand how this works, and they will negotiate the settlement accordingly. That is the power of preserving evidence in a personal injury case.
You are Not Alone – Get Help Protecting Your Claim
Insurance companies have teams of accident investigators on their payroll. These people are not looking out for your interests – to the contrary, their objective is to minimize the amount of money you receive. Your best countermeasure is to hire a respected, local personal injury firm to gather the evidence you need to prevail. At Neale & Fhima, we offer free consultations and we do not charge for our services unless we are successful in obtaining money for your injuries. To speak directly with one of our Orange County car accident attorneys, call (888) 559-4904 or request your free consultation online.