Common Types of Evidence Used in Car Accident Claims

Common Types of Evidence Used in Car Accident Claims
Car Accidents

Common Types of Evidence Used in Car Accident Claims

When someone is involved in a car accident, they are temporarily unable to think clearly. Most of us are in shock in the immediate aftermath of an accident and may not know what we should be doing next. The chaos at the scene is complicated with first responders and law enforcement showing up and there is a flurry of activity. While the last thing a victim is often thinking about is filing a claim for the damages and injury they suffered, it is important to understand some of the most valuable evidence is collected at the scene.

What Evidence Should Be Gathered at the Scene of Car Accidents

The initial evidence necessary for filing a car accident claim can be collected at the scene. This information will be helpful for various reasons, including showing the damage to vehicles. Some of the potential evidence which can be gathered at an accident scene includes:

  • Information from those involved — the name, address, and telephone number, of any drivers involved in the accident should be collected. Other information such as license plate numbers and insurance information should also be obtained.
  • Witness information — any witnesses to the accident can help provide insight as to the events leading up to the accident. Gathering their names and contact information will help when filing an insurance claim.
  • Photographs — documentation is always a valuable type of evidence for any accident. Photographs of the damage to vehicles and, when possible, injuries sustained, traffic signals in the area, and nearby buildings such as stores could also be helpful.

Obtaining a Louisiana crash report will also help provide valuable evidence needed for filing a claim. These reports may be requested approximately 10 days following a collision. When someone is involved in an accident, they must notify law enforcement if the accident resulted in more than $500 in damage per Revised Statutes section 32-398. Additionally, any accident involving damage in excess of $1,000 must be reported to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C)  within 24 hours.

Evidence After Leaving the Scene of the Accident

The collection of evidence to bolster an insurance claim is not all collected at the scene of the crash. When an accident victim seeks medical care following an accident, a new evidence trail is created. Some of the following information may be requested by an insurer:

  • Medical record of injuries — when a victim seeks medical attention immediately following an accident the attending physician will make note of any visible and internal injuries. It is a good idea to avoid signing documents which release these records without first speaking with a lawyer who has experience handling car accidents.
  • Receipts for expenses — collecting all receipts from medical treatments, prescription drugs, or other expenses incurred as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident will also provide valuable evidence to document the value of a claim.
  • Proof of lost wages — after a car accident some people are not able to return to work immediately. A statement from the doctor who has knowledge of the injuries sustained as well as a projected recovery period will be helpful. Additionally, a statement from the victim’s place of employment or pay stubs showing normal income levels are commonly used to show these amounts accurately.
  • Estimate of damages — an estimate of the repair costs for the vehicle which was involved in the accident is also essential. Even when this expense is to be paid for by the victim’s insurance company, there may be deductibles involved which should be included in the final claim for settlement with the at-fault party’s insurer.  

It is always helpful to remember this — the more documentation that is available to demonstrate the full extent of losses suffered as a result of a car accident the better. Victims of a car accident can speak with an experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney to determine what additional documentation may be needed to successfully file their claim.

Documentation Matters Following a Car Accident

Louisiana drivers must maintain auto insurance in the event they are involved in an accident. However, since Louisiana is not a no-fault state, insurance claims must be filed with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. Insurance companies do not like to pay claims because it impacts their bottom line. Therefore, the better the documentation, the less room there is for denying a claim.

There may be more than one insurance company involved in the claims process. This is especially true if the driver of the vehicle who caused the crash was a rideshare operator or working at the time of the accident. This makes it even more critical to have definitive information about the accident and who may be at fault.

Since most car accident victims will not have a clear recollection of an accident, which is perfectly normal, having the names of witnesses and other evidence can help when identifying who was at fault for an accident.

Working with a Car Accident Lawyer Collecting Evidence

Witness memories do not last forever. Traffic camera footage is often overwritten after several days. Even footage which may be available from businesses or ATMs near the scene of the accident may be helpful in identifying the root cause of an accident. These are some of the reasons why it makes sense to reach out to an attorney as soon after an accident as possible.

A law office with experience handling auto accident claims knows the process for obtaining valuable information which will help make the insurance claim process easier for those who are involved in a car accident. Some of the steps an attorney can take include:

  • Reviewing insurance company requests
  • Obtaining witness statements
  • Analyzing accident reports
  • Submitting requests for traffic and surveillance camera footage
  • Ask for expert witnesses if necessary
  • Helping victims submit a complete insurance claim

Victims of car accidents only have one year following an accident to file an accident injury lawsuit. This is not a lot of time when negotiations with insurance companies can often take several weeks to several months.

While most auto accident claims never go to court, working with insurance adjusters is not an overnight process. Negotiations take time to make sure after an accident a victim has the opportunity to be fully compensated for their losses.

Attorneys Have More Experience Handling Car Accident Evidence

When an accident occurs, all evidence has value. Sometimes it is necessary to work with an accident reconstruction team in order to establish who was at fault for a car accident. This can complicate the process and also extend the time necessary to establish the basis for a claim.

The most useful evidence is collected in the days following an accident. Lawyers who have combined knowledge of the legal requirements for establishing fault, proving damages and liability, and understand the claims process can be a victim’s best advocate.

Contact a New Orleans Car Accident Attorney Today

Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC has more than five decades of combined experience handling insurance claims following a car accident. Having someone who can serve as an advocate for a car accident victim and help with the claims process can allow a victim to focus on their physical recovery. Contact our experienced team at (504) 294-5075 today or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.