What Evidence Do I Need to Collect After a Car Accident?
Accidents happen to us all the time, even when we plan ahead and do our best to stay safe. This is why it is best to be prepared for anything that can come your way, just in case. Because most of us drive almost every day, everyone should be familiar with the steps to take following an automobile accident. Such accidents are unfortunately extremely common. In 2018, an average of 1,106 car crashes occurred in the state of Florida every day, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
We’ve written before about what to do in the moments following a car accident. Here we break down the exact steps you need to take as soon as possible following a crash to ensure you are protected under the law. Please note that you should only follow these steps if you and the other people involved are not in need of immediate medical attention. If someone has been injured, call emergency medical services as soon as possible.
Establish the Burden of Proof
If you were not at fault for your accident, you want to ensure no one else tries to blame you for it. Car accident claims require the claimant (in this case, you) to provide evidence that another individual (the defendant) is liable for the damages sustained in the crash.
There are four things that must be established to determine burden of proof:
- A “duty of care” was owed to you by the defendant
- They violated this duty of care by causing the crash
- Their negligence directly caused your injuries
- You have proof of your injuries
Proving you were not at fault and were injured can be difficult if you don’t collect the proper evidence, however.
Acquire Evidence that Will Help with Your Case
As soon as possible after the accident, start taking pictures. Photograph the accident scene from every angle as well as any injuries you have sustained. Call the police to the scene and collect their name and badge number for future reference—the police report may help your case as well. Get the contact information of any witnesses because they may be able to speak on your behalf later. Ask the other parties involved for their contact and insurance information. Take detailed notes of anything remotely relevant you can think of. Certain details of a traumatic event like a car accident can fade surprisingly fast, so it’s best to do all of this as soon as possible.
Many people may not know that certain vehicles manufactured since the mid-2000s contain an “event date recorder (EDR)”, a device which functions essentially the same as an airplane’s black box.
EDRs can record many types of accident data, including:
- Acceleration/deceleration speeds
- Airbag deployment times
- Force of impact
- If your brakes were applied
- If you were wearing your seat belt
- Steering angles
- Throttle position
- Tilt of the vehicle
- Vehicle speed
If you or the other drivers involved have an EDR installed in your vehicles, you may be able to use this information to help your case. You will likely need the owner’s consent or a court order to access the data from another’s vehicle, however. Make sure to inquire about this quickly, as vehicle black box data is only saved for a short amount of time. This is one of the many issues a Florida car accident attorney can assist you with.
Contact A Florida Car Accident Lawyer
A common mistake people make following an accident is speaking to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, they can and will use anything you say to build a case against you and make you lose credibility. Before talking to anyone other than a law enforcement or medical professional, contact a lawyer. We can start advising you right away on what steps to take next.
To sum up, here are the main things you should focus on following an accident.
- Establish the burden of proof
- Acquire evidence that will help with your case
- Utilize the data from your vehicle’s “black box”
- Contact a Florida car accident lawyer
We hope this information helps you feel more secure on the road. Safe travels!
If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident, call The Pittman Firm, P.A. Our founding attorney has been handling personal injury cases for over 30 years throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States.
Contact us online or at (850) 764-0383 for a free case evaluation regarding your auto accident.