California has a two-year statute of limitation for personal injury claims resulting from a car accident, but it is in your best interests to seek legal representation as soon after the accident as you can. If you wait, valuable evidence may be lost.
Types of Evidence Your Lawyer May Find and Preserve
The burden of proof in a car accident personal injury claim lies with the person seeking damages. Your lawyer will investigate all types of evidence that can be used to support your claim. This includes:
- Video. Some accidents are caught on surveillance video from traffic cameras or nearby businesses. If video is available, it can help corroborate your version of the events. However, video is routinely recorded over after a short period of time unless it is requested and copied for use as evidence before it is lost.
- Witness testimony. Witnesses can help support your own testimony regarding the events that led up to your car accident or to fill in the blanks if you are unaware of important details. Unfortunately, as time passes, memories start to fade so preserving those memories while fresh are critical. If witnesses are not located quickly, they may be unable to recall important details. In some cases, witnesses move away so they are no available to be assist with your case.
- Accident photos. Photos of an accident scene can be useful in establishing lighting, road conditions, vehicle location, skid marks, signage and other contributing factors. Photos taken from multiple angles tend to be most effective.
- Black box data. A vehicle's black box can provide important information into factors not otherwise visible in an accident. Black boxes record information regarding variables such as speed, acceleration, braking, airbag deployment, and seat belt use. Since the recorders in the devices do not have unlimited storage space, the data is typically erased if it has not been downloaded using special retrieval tools.
- Medical records. Your medical records will be important evidence since they provide documentation of the extent of your injuries from your car accident. Your lawyer will want to collect every record regarding your emergency visits and follow-up care, including copies of x-rays and lab test results. Depending upon the extent of your injuries, your lawyer may also recommend locating specialists with experience in treating your condition to provide expert testimony regarding your future medical needs and the effect your injuries will have on your earning potential. Additionally, medical records before the injury may be necessary to prove that your injuries are related to the collision and not a pre-existing injury.
- Police reports. Police reports are not admissible in court, but can still prove very useful in personal injury settlement negotiations. Some well-prepared police reports provide witness statements, accident causation analysis and contact information, as well as possible violations of traffic laws.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
With evidence to prove liability and damages, you can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including emergency room visits, surgery, physical therapy, follow-up care, and prescription medications.
- Anticipated future medical needs, if the car accident caused a permanently disabling injury such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury.
- Lost wages for the time you were unable to work due to your injuries
- The anticipated loss of future earning potential, if your injuries caused a disability that will prevent you from returning to the type of employment you held before the accident.
- Additional costs in daily living or support for significant injuries
- Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional trauma surrounding the incident.
How Inland Empire Law Group Can Help
When you have been injured in a car accident, your first priority needs to be seeking the medical care that you need to recover from your injuries. Gathering evidence to support a personal injury claim may not be the first thing on your mind when you are in pain. Evidence gathering can also be time-consuming and complicated, especially when you have no legal background or don’t know what you are looking for. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you protect your right to compensation by gathering evidence, assessing the value of your case, and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf. The Inland Empire Law Group is dedicated to helping California residents resolve their car accident claims promptly and fairly. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review. Appointments are available at both our Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville offices. Our office Call today to speak to one of our helpful injury professionals (909) 481-0100 or (888) MY-IELAW.