How to Best Preserve Key Evidence after an Accident
Were you injured in an auto accident or a slip and fall? Have you suffered a dog bite or other injury? Were you or a family member seriously injured on the job? When accidents happen one of the most important things to do is obtain and preserve key evidence.
Auto Accident, Especially Those Involving Tractor Trailers
Any auto accident can involve serious injury or death. Truck accidents and motorcycle accidents can also cause very serious and permanent injuries. This is why it is important to obtain key evidence and preserve it. In some accidents involving serious injury or death, the investigating officer does not talk to you, people in your vehicle, or witnesses that can corroborate your account of the incident until long after the accident, whether it is because your injury is so severe that you can’t give your statement at that time or the officer is too busy investigating and clearing the scene. Sometimes you can’t get the names of witnesses or photographs. Regardless, it is imperative that you do the following as soon as you are able:
- 1) Stop at the scene of the accident and call law enforcement immediately.
- 2) Obtain the Identity of all witnesses which includes name, address and contact information ( you may not be able to talk to them at the time of the accident but someone can talk to them in the very near future on your behalf).
- 3) Obtain identity of the other drivers, including names, contact information and Driver’s License numbers or tag number of vehicles.
- 4) In most accidents, a law enforcement officer will arrive shortly thereafter and he can provide you with an exchange slip which will contain the important information about the other driver, including insurance information (the officer will usually get the names of all witnesses and statements but, in some cases, he may not have time ).
- 5) The officer will prepare an Accident report which is usually on a North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle form 349. This is called DMV form 349. We can usually get the accident report within a few days after the accident occurs. We also have an explanation map for how to read this form.
- 6) Get photos of the vehicles involved and the scene if possible. Sometimes the officers take photos and we can get those from the officer during our investigation.
- 7) If the at-fault driver admits fault then definitely write down exactly what he offers in the way of admissions.
- 8) One of the most important witnesses can be the EMS workers who come to assist you. Get the names so we can contact them later. They usually take very good notes about the accident and reported injuries.
- 9) In cases involving serious injury or death, we often times hire an accident reconstructionist to help us analyze the cause of the accident so if liability becomes an issue we can win that at trial. We have prior law enforcement officers who help us investigate accidents, talk to troopers that investigate your accident and help secure and preserve all evidence.
All evidence can be key and vital to your case. We aim to get it and preserve it. Remember, time is your enemy because the evidence is lost, memories fade and witnesses get confused about what they saw. Evidence can also disappear. Things change as we so adamantly remind people in our TV advertisement.
The best way to obtain and preserve your evidence is to hire us as soon as possible especially if you suffered a serious injury. We are very experienced and very good at getting evidence and preserving it for future use. We do this every day.
Preserving Slip and Fall Evidence
We represent a lot of folks who fell in a local business because the business created a dangerous condition and failed to make it safe. If this happens to you and you are injured, then you must do the following:
- 1) Report the incident to the business manager immediately.
- 2) Obtain the name of the location, name of the business, date of incident (it is crucial that you get the correct name of the owner or occupier to the business so the request can be made for insurance information.
- 3) Obtain a copy of the incident report as you most likely will need this to prove that an incident occurred.
- 4) Photos of the scene or the spill or the unsafe condition.
- 5) Witnesses information, name, and contact information.
- 6) Ask for a copy of the in store or property video surveillance as this can prove exactly what happened (we usually send a letter requesting this that we call our preservation/spoliation of evidence demand).
As with auto cases, it is best to hire us early and let us do your investigation, and obtain and preserve the evidence.
Preserving Evidence with Dog Bite Injuries
Cases involving dog bites can create a lot of issues in attempting to obtain and preserve evidence, especially when the dog that bites leaves the scene and you can’t find the owner. The following include the things you must do if you or a family member are bitten by a dog:
- 1) Identify and get photos of the dog if you can.
- 2) Identify the owner or person who has possession of the dog and be certain to obtain name, contact information and address.
- 3) Obtain the location of the dog bite.
- 4) Call law enforcement or animal control as soon as possible so an incident report can be completed ( you can also learn from animal control if the dog has a history of dog bites or aggressive behavior).
- 5) Obtain insurance information so the insurance can be put on notice of the claim.
The best thing to do is hire Riddle and Brantley to investigate your case and obtain the key evidence before it disappears, is lost or forgotten.
Preserving Evidence with a Workers Compensation Claim
If you suffered an injury by accident at work, then you must be very diligent and persistent in obtaining key evidence and preserving it. You must do the following:
- 1) Identify the location of your accident whether you were injured at your work place, on the highway or at the location of a third party.
- 2) Obtain a copy of the incident report filed by your employer or any agency making the report.
- 3) Obtain photos of the scene and request a copy of the surveillance of the grounds where you were hurt.
- 4) Obtain copies of all of your employer reports (your employer is required to file a report of injury on forms provided by the Industrial Commission so make sure you get a copy of that report which is usually completed on a form 19).
- 5) Obtain the names and contact information of all witnesses, even co-employees, especially since the employer may dispute whether an accident occurred.
- 6) Obtain or know the amount of your true weekly wage being paid at the time of the accident (in some cases the employer attempts to short change you on your correct amount of wages and we can certainly help make sure you get paid fairly).
- 7) All forms must be promptly filed with the Industrial Commission so we will make sure that this is done timely.
- 8) Obtain names and contact information of EMS workers as their testimony can be vital in proving what happened on your job.
- 9) In very serious injury or death cases, we sometimes contact OSHA and obtain and review the OSHA reports and then we follow up on any witnesses identified in those reports (we have even used the OSHA investigator in past cases to testify for us).
Some worker’s compensation claims involve very serious injury or death and the earlier we are hired the easier it is for us to prove what happened and secure the appropriate benefits that you or a family member is entitled to receive.
The bottom line is that obtaining and preserving key evidence can be the difference between winning or losing your case. When we are hired, we make a big deal out of identifying the key evidence and preserving it. In cases of very serious injury or death, we sometimes hire experts in accident reconstruction to help us prove what happened and preserve the key evidence.